We could have done without the Wolves fans reminding us that “we’re just too good for you”. But they told us anyway. We’d have done the same.
Alas this wasn’t the usual bravado of a travelling hoard. This was a statement of fact. Plain and simple.
Despite it being one of those where most in yellow and green could take some degree of comfort from the fact that they ‘put in a shift’, those from the Black Country trumped those from Norfolk at almost every turn.
They were a bit stronger, a bit quicker, a bit more inventive, a bit more solid, a bit more clinical and just a bit… better.
That’s not to say that City have suddenly become the basket case some hair-trigger tweeters would have us believe but it was a reminder that ours is still a club in transition. One where some of the questions are yet to be answered.
Wolves meanwhile, who have taken a rather different and more expensive route to their own footballing revolution, look far more like the finished article. In truth 2-0 could quite easily have been 4-0 or 5-0 and it needed some last ditch heroics to prevent it being even more painful.
That Ryan Bennett would have an absolutely flawless night as part of a back three was completely par for the course; a performance minus even the slightest hint of the type of cock up that blighted his latter years here. John Ruddy too was as solid as a rock, albeit his evening was far more comfortable than any of us would have liked.
That fallout from all the above was, in some quarters, brutal but in the real word was merely a reflection of where we currently stand compared to the Championship’s new elite. Following the eight-game unbeaten run we were all probably a little guilty of getting carried away but there was a general acceptance that the two home games, against Derby and Wolves, would give us a truer indicator of where we are. And that is pretty much how it has played out.
Against the Rams we came up just short, albeit against a backdrop of fatigue, but last night, with no such mitigation up our sleeves, we came up well short.
That’s not to say the evening was without positives, and minus some sloppy defending we could have squirmed away with a streaky point. Grant Hanley did enough on debut to suggest he’s a more than viable alternative to Christoph Zimmermann, next to him Timm Klose carried on a good run of form and in terms of effort and commitment there were few question marks; those who hurl brickbats in the direction of Mario Vrančić, in my view, failing to see past his languid style and body language.
James Maddison again picked up a MotM award from the sponsors and was unquestionably our main threat but that in itself tells a story. Much now rests on those young shoulders and the methodical approach relies heavily, especially when chasing a game, on a piece of magic or inspiration from him to unlock defences. Minus that it becomes a little difficult to see where a goal is coming from.
Marley Watkins, for all his tireless running and chasing, found the lone striker role heavy going and even with Cameron Jerome alongside him struggled to make any sort of headway against a back three who found it all just a little bit too easy. And let’s not pretend otherwise… this is a problem that we currently show no sign of solving at Carrow Road.
Nelson Oliveira’s struggle for fitness is hitting us hard and right now at home we resemble a blunt instrument when something sharp and effective is called for. We’re a little too easy to defend against.
Saturday may be, and will hopefully be, different and of late the method of playing against a home side who are obliged to attack has worked.
So, it was a disappointing one no doubt and to have barely laid a glove on last night’s visitors took the wind out of our sails, but perhaps, as the head coach suggested, we shouldn’t dwell and go ‘too deep’ on this one.
Time to dust ourselves down, re-energise, and go again at Bolton.