A Stoke fan telephoned BBC Radio Five Live's '606' show to give his assessment of the club's Premier League debut. He said: “We played quite well really, but we conceded three quick goals…”
Poor, sad sap. An entire summer's exultant expectation had been deflated in 11 minutes at Bolton. But what did he expect? The rest of us knew, as soon as they were promoted, that Stoke faced nine months of painful attrition.
I got myself into trouble with Stoke supporters by pointing out, in print and on radio, that their first several months in the top division might be, literally, pointless. Drunk on euphoria after finishing second in the worst Championship in memory, they refused to see the cruel truth about their prospects.
Which brings me to our club. Were our expectations about this season realistic? And has it been a crushing disappointment so far?
In their last ten campaigns in English football's second tier, Norwich City have only finished in the top half five times (four of them under Nigel Worthington) and only twice entered the precious top six (both with Worthy).
Yet every summer, like the fans of probably every other club, we convince ourselves that this time we are going to take our pre-ordained place among the winners. And this summer, despite the disruption and disharmony caused by the mischievous myths about Peter Cullum's ?20 million “for players”, our optimism was cranked up by Glenn Roeder's signings.
Then came three games in which City gleaned one goal, from a bloke who is, in theory at least, a midfielder. Cue despondency. Cue mutterings about demonstrations. Cue a mass crossing of fingers and hoping that some big striker will arrive and make everything all right.
So let's try to put aside both summer optimism and August angst and make a realistic appraisal of where we are ? and to do that we have to be truthful about where we were.
So let's recall the start of last season. There were particularly shocking performances at Rochdale (where the midfield was over-run and the defence exposed by a fatal lack of pace) and Wolves (where Julien Brellier's unforgivable lapse of self-discipline was only one awful aspect of a truly terrible afternoon). Then, in October, City became the first team to lose at QPR and replaced them at the bottom of the table.
I think the club was at its lowest ebb, in football terms, for 30 years.
So to be in the Championship this season is a considerable achievement.
I believe as well that the summer acquisitions have been first rate. For many of them, Roeder had to beat off competition from other clubs (always a good sign) and the first 45 minutes of competitive football brought the best passing and movement from a City team I have seen since a couple of the performances in the season we won the Football League (Walsall away and Watford away, since you ask).
But my heart sank at stadium:mk. Milton Keynes stole their football team, their ground is too big for them and it hasn't even got capital letters. Yet Roberto Di Matteo unhinged our lot with some fairly basic tactics.
When our back four had the ball, Di Matteo's men retreated and allowed them unhampered possession. That meant that our defenders could pass along the back line all night. And they did.
Milton Keynes packed their midfield and so cut off all the near-range passing options and in the uncompleted stands, us supporters thought wistfully of Dion and recalled the days of Iwan.
I am not advocating hoof-ball. I love the way Roeder obviously wants to play, but a big striker gives a team more than a foil for a little striker. He gives harassed defenders an “out”. He gives them an option other than passing sideways.
So that's where we are. We've got a very decent squad. We have a couple of solid centre-backs and, in Elliot Omozusi, a versatile and gifted player whose anticipation is exceptional and whose touch is sublime.
We've got some very good, incisive and decisive passers. But we've got no focal point.
Meanwhile, 14 of the other clubs in our division also used to be in the Premier League, believe they should be back there and, like us, have worked to improve their squads.
Then there's QPR, with the wealthiest owners of any English club. Swansea and Doncaster are still buoyant after promotion. Bristol City who will be encouraged by reaching the play-offs last season instead of flattened by losing in them.
In other words, it is a tough, competitive division again.
Are City a top six side? We won't know if that is possible until well after Christmas.