Matches at the Madejski have provided a fairly accurate gauge of Norwich City's place in the football hierarchy in recent seasons.
In September 2002 I was lost in the vast car park for about a fortnight after an evening game there. I'd had to park my motor so far from the stadium that the curvature of the earth must have obscured the vehicle when I was looking for it afterwards.
I didn't care at all because City had won 2-0 and played some OK football. I phoned one of my sons and reported: “We've got a decent team…” City finished just outside the play-off spots that season.
It was 19 months before the Yellow Army next filled the away end at the Madejski, because the 2003-04 fixture was not until April. You'll all remember that one.
Phil Mulryne spanked in the only goal four minutes from the end, after being inadvertently set up by referee Neal Barry. The level of City's performance and the hilarious winner combined to convince the travelling fans that the boys were on their way into the Premier League.
Yet in January 2006, Norwich were back in the Football League, back at the Madejski and on their back feet all night as Reading romped to a 4-0 win. Leroy Lita was one of their scorers, and if I tell you that Peter Thorne was allegedly leading our attack, you'll have some idea how unrelentingly grim the whole sorry evening was.
Even with a big Norwich contingent, the attendance that night was less than 22,000.
That was good for a club who had begun that season “attracting” crowds of 16,000. Reading went on to win the title, have two seasons in the Premier League and are considerably better placed than City this season ? both financially and in terms of their position in the Championship.
I can't visit the Madejski without thinking the town of Reading doesn't deserve its successful football club.
I nursed that sense of injustice at this season's match, even before the Royals robbery. I mean, they've been in the Prem, they're flying in the Championship and they still can't pull in 20,000…
Oh, and their stewards are belligerently partisan. They kept marching up the steps mob-handed to tell our fans right at the back of the stand to sit, but no such enforcement action was taking place away to our right, where Reading supporters (if that is what we must call them) were standing throughout the first half.
I told one chrome-domed charmer of a steward that having a radio microphone on his lapel might make him feel as if he was in the CIA, but he was dealing with civilized, well-behaved folk, not conducting the war on terror.
Actually, I didn't tell him that. But I would have, if Mrs Dennis had not intervened, as she so often has over the last three decades, with the words: “He's not worth it….”
Anyway, my resentment towards Reading was cooled by the fact that City were playing so well ? even without anyone remotely resembling a fit striker.
The Ginger Pele was at his bloody-minded best and John Kennedy was relishing his tackles so much that on one occasion he almost managed to take out two Reading subs as well as the intended recipient of his feet and follow-through.
Sammy the Klingon was the best player on the pitch again and Lee “Buzz Lightyear” Croft was up, up and away so often that I was expecting to sing that Jingle Bells ditty about what fun it is to see City win away.
Pah! You know what happened next. Another penalty. Another defeat. Another refereeing rant from our dejected manager.
But the plethora of penalties can't all be down to officious officials; just as all those defeats cannot be attributed solely to bad luck. Yes, we've had our share of both, but there has to be something else going on.
Some of the approach play is the best I've seen from any team in the Championship for many seasons, but at Vicarage Road the Watford goalkeeper could have sat down and read a newspaper and at Reading three gilt-edged chances were wasted in the first-half because City only had midfield players in the six-yard box.
So, again, a trip to the Madejski has told us how Norwich are placed.
Glenn Roeder has transformed the quality of the squad. It is unrecognizable from the job lot of pedestrian Scots he inherited and it includes several real players. It is good enough to make Reading look ordinary.
But because scoring opportunities are being scorned, the opposition is eventually encouraged to put our defence under pressure. When every attack threatens defeat, defending becomes desperate, tackles become rash, the odd hand is used.
The problem starts at the other end. Norwich are a striker or two short of being a good team.
Still, I found the car easily this time.