That we came away from Carrow Road feeling disappointed at not picking up a point speaks volumes.
So too that Frank Lampard’s Chelsea celebrated at the end as if the league title had just been clinched.
As deserved as their three points were, they’d been in a game and they knew it, and for all of those reasons, we should continue to feel proud.
Equally, no-one can deny City came up just short – something not wholly unexpected against a side who came third last season and who won the Europa League.
We were all guilty of getting a little giddy after the Newcastle game and the feeling that ‘anything is possible’ was irresistible after last Saturday’s performance, but it only took two and a bit minutes for Tammy Abrahams to remind us that this was to be a very different type of afternoon.
To coin a phrase, it’s not games like these that will define our season. Any points collected against the so-called top six are bonus points, and in the brutal world of Premier League survival there are 26 games that have to be targeted in which to collect the 40-ish points required.
That Chelsea had started slowly in terms of getting points on the board had, in some ways. lulled us into a false sense of security but as Andy Jacobs reminded me in our pre-match chat, their performance levels, other than the second half against Leicester when the fatigue of the Super Cup Final in Istanbul had kicked in, had been good.
In fact, what he also said, and which didn’t make the finished piece, was that if Chelsea had had Teemu Pukki up top they’d have won a couple of games by now. Well now, to our cost, they’ve found their Pukki.
And even without the now-departed Eden Hazard, this is an Abramovich-funded club of exotic proportions and the quality they possess in every single area of the pitch is on a different plane to anything we encountered last season. Only Liverpool and Man City come close in terms of financial outlay.
So for little ol’ Norwich to go toe-to-toe with them and end up the width of a crossbar away from earning a point is a decent effort in my book, and offers a more-than-decent platform to build on for the remaining 35 games.
For City to be under the pump for long spells was not really a surprise, neither was the fact we were unable to keep and recycle the ball with the ease we did against Newcastle. In fact, the most disappointing aspect of the whole afternoon was nothing to do with the performance but instead the reaction to it.
The crowd’s immediate response upon Martin Atkinson’s final whistle was stirring. Most appreciated the fact it was a sterling but ultimately fruitless effort that had stayed true to the new way in terms of method, style and application.
And then Canary Call happened.
A bloke called Gary (I know) was, when I turned on the radio, lamenting the fact the club had not splashed the cash in the summer and was generally getting uppity over the fact we hadn’t smashed a Chelsea side who were apparently “there for the taking”.
Worse was to come when resident expert Greg Downs – who in fairness disagreed with the “there for the taking” line – doubled-down on the lack of summer spending, citing the negligence of not signing another centre-back to bolster a squad that conceded 57 goals last season.
Well, Mr Downs – I have news. We scored 93 at the other end. And part of that reason is that we played an attacking brand of football that necessitated getting our full-backs high up the pitch. We didn’t concede 57 goals because we have poor centre-backs, we conceded them because of the way we play.
Plonk Virgil van Dyck and Harry Maguire in the heart of our defence and still they’ll be occasionally exposed. It’s how we do it, and it’s worked quite well for us so far.
That’s not to say our centre-backs don’t make errors, and there’s no doubting that Grant Hanley got his feet and his body position in a bit of a muddle when Abraham’s clever movement created the shooting chance for Chelsea’s third goal, but it was also a classic case of a lack of bodies as they hit City on the counter. The price we pay sometimes for how we play.
But it was a rare blemish on an otherwise fairly solid afternoon for Hanley and while it’s only right to point out the costly errors – like Max Aarons’ wayward pass that led to Mason Mount’s goal – there’s no benefit in players being called out after just three games, especially when two of them have been against the Champions League and Europa League champions.
I don’t expect the Hanley/Ben Godfrey partnership to endure for the whole season when Tom Klose and Christoph Zimmermann both reach full fitness, but his whole-hearted approach has my backing for as long as he wears the shirt.
Others too, in the wake of defeat, came under the microscope and I again found myself defending Marco Stiepermann who, with Hanley, is in danger of becoming the latest holder of the Russell Martin trophy.
That he and Tom Trybull and Emi Buendia – who incidentally was involved in both goals yesterday – have not been able to make the same impact against European champions as they did against Championship opposition is no surprise surely?
The players are operating in a different playing field now. The intensity is such that mistakes will be made. “Get him off” every time an error is made helps no-one.
On the plus side of course is we scored twice and refused to allow the strutting kings of the King’s Road too much time to parade their exotic plumage. Pukki scored again because that’s what Pukki does, but it was a special moment for Todd Cantwell, whose progress continues apace. Well done lad. Be proud.
So, no points but pride aplenty and still nothing to suggest this lot are not here for the long haul.