City boss Peter Grant gave his mixed Canary assortment the benefit of the doubt after Norwich lost their first pre-season friendly of the summer 2-1 to Conference standard Exeter City yesterday.
Two goals in the space of three, frankly shambolic minutes gave Norwich's West Country FlyBe cousins a lead they never really looked like losing.
And while the Championship side regained much of their poise and a little of their pride before the afternoon was out – helped in no small part by Luke Chadwick's strike on the half-hour mark – City boss Grant will clearly be keen to start bringing his bigger guns to bear on pre-season proceedings after this weekend's little hic-cup.
?You could see it was the first 90 minutes,? said Grant, who fielded young Robert Eagle at left-back and gave Gary Doherty a run-about in centre-midfield as a whole host of call-offs and stay-at-homes gave Norwich something of a make-shift air.
That said, the comical collision between Eagle and Jason Shackell that led to the Grecians' opener with less than ten minutes on the clock was less than clever; likewise, Adam Stansfield had all the time and space in the world to bag their second three minutes later from a tight angle deep in the Canary penalty area.
Fortunately, Grant was in a forgiving mood. First day back at the office and all that.
?We know that Exeter have had a couple of extra games and there was a rustiness there – and they've been working very hard. It's been tough on their legs,? said the City chief.
?Obviously I was disappointed with the way that we started the game – there's no doubt about that – and that's why I'm a little bit more reserved about it than usual. Because I knew it would be tough.?
It will be an interesting exercise to see, in the fullness of time, how many of those players that started the game at St James' Park yesterday, start at Deepdale come August 11.
Three would be one guess as David Strihavka and Jamie Cureton took to centre stage for the first time up front, while the sight of Shackall sporting a skipper's armband suggests he might be in line to bag one of the centre-half slots. One or either of Lee Croft and Chadwick will be there or thereabouts, too.
Thereafter, however, and Grant has seven more places to nail down as the more likely suspects missed the trip through a whole host of reasons – everything from a sister's wedding to a trip to the dentist. Two more – Adam Drury and Youssef Safri – started the game on the bench. Safri, of course, already has competition for his place.
?Julien Brellier has done all his fitness work, his fitness tests but I still think he'd missed out on some leg-work and the only way that he's going to get that is by doing some fitness work back home.
?Jon Otsemobor was the same. Though he's done all the work, with him missing the end part of last season there's a bit more work to get into his legs yet.
?Same with the goalkeepers. Hucks (Darren Huckerby) had a slight strain which someone said he had last pre-season on his groin and then he missed the Coventry game through it.
?And Dickson (Etuhu) was at the dentist before training yesterday morning and was at the dentist during the night, so then I get a phone call at quarter past seven to say he'd been up all night again so that's the reason Dickson's out.?
Which only left two more. ?I'd said to Simon (Lappin) at the end of last season – and I'd forgot all about – that his sister gets married today and I think he was a bridesmaid. And I'd promised him he could go up for that – he's fine.
?Fotheringham has his blisters which Neal (Reynolds) thinks are too raw to put any pressure on, but typical Fozzy he was first to the airport this morning, hoping to go but he was sent home – he's not allowed to train on them today, but they're a lot better.
?And that was the reason why we were short of bodies – and that's why I had to move it about.?
For the 250-odd City fans who had made the long journey west, there was at least the chance to catch a first sighting of Strihavka in Canary shirt – and a second look at Cureton in yellow and green after the one-time Trowse trainee's return to the family fold this summer.
Cureton looked much as he did at Layer Road in the spring – bright, nimble, clearly wanting to do well.
Strihavka's first hurdle will be communication as he tries to twiddle the language knobs and adjust his game onto the wave-length of English football.
Both would have a pop at goal during the course of their respective 45 and 60 minutes – Cureton blazed way over; Strihavka drilled a low one into the keeper's arms from 25 yards out; Exeter centre-half Andy Taylor needed to clear after Cureton slipped the keeper and almost gave his new strike pal an open goal to aim at.
?I was impressed with him – particularly when you think he hardly knows the players,? said Grant, quizzed as to the impact of the 6ft 2in Czech.
?You can see some great movement; especially in the first-half but he never received the ball. But you can see he's a powerful lad; quick over the ground; and wants to strike at goal.
?And that's the same with Curo (Cureton) as well. I'm quite happy for these guys to have shots at goal and miss – I don't mind that. Because I know they'll take opportunities and they'll score them.
?I think they shaped up well when you consider the small period of time that they have been here.?
City's preparations for the new Championship season take on a more familiar order this week when they face first Lowestoft Town on Tuesday night before travelling to King's Lynn on Wednesday.
After that, things start to get more serious again with the six-day tour to Holland and games against Apeldoorn and FC Zwolle of the Dutch equivalent of the Championship.