Canary youngster Chris Martin did his very best last night to suggest that there may be life after Robert Earnshaw as his four-goal frolic in the 12-0 demolition of Lowestoft Town offered at least one, warm ray of sunshine to pierce the navel-gazing, post-Dickson-stroke-Earnie gloom.
In fairness – given the ambivalent attitude of many a supporter to Etuhu's ?1.5 million switch to Sunderland – Martin's timely reminder of his undoubted potential offered more of an antidote to the post-Huckerby gloom as the Canary favourite donned his supporter's scarf and vented his frustration at seeing one of his biggest dressing room pals disappear over the horizon.
And with it unleashed all manner of uncomfortable questions that – for a club of Norwich's ilk – has only one answer. Premiership football and/or huge great mountains of cash. Or both. Cash that is then thrown in every direction.
On last night's evidence – albeit all against Ridgeons Premier opposition – having bundles and bundles of used fiftys at your disposal is one way of ensuring that no-one starts to have sleepless nights as to how long Chrissy Martin stays in these parts.
Not just to reward the boy for his Norfolk 'loyalty', but – at some stage – to deliver the Premiership stage which, in every reasonable likelihood, his talents and his ambitions will demand. If not deserve.
“Hopefully getting the goals will get me off to a godd start and, hopefully, I can carry on,” said Martin last night, after proving one of the real star turns at Crown Meadow.
He wasn't alone – Luke Chadwick and new-boy Jon Otsemobor also caught the eye. But it is goals that win matches and win places in the Premiership and City's England Under-19 striker showed little or no ring-rustiness as he took Lowestoft apart.
“I felt alright – it's the first time I played 90 minutes in a while; the legs were a bit heavy towards the end. But's it's going to stand me in good stead for the rest of the season, hopefully.”
The first – a chest, turn and low drive – was good; the second a simple tap-in; the third a confident far post header. The fourth – Norwich's ninth for those that were still counting – was the pick of the bunch as he lashed a glorious, 25-yard dipping, swerving effort away and beyond a shell-shocked Trawler Boys' keeper.
“Mmm…yeh, probably,” he smiled, well aware that an opportunity now knocks following Earnshaw's exit. Jamie Cureton will probably stay on pole, but the 31-year-old returning Norwich favourite will – on this form – have Martin snapping at his heels come August 11.
“I did love it. Getting on the ball again; getting the feel of the ball. I played 45 down at Exeter and then another 90 here – it's just nice to get back playing football again,” said Martin, who will only turn 19 in November.
The fact that both Cureton and David Strihavka – not to mention a fit-again Chris Brown – now lie between him and regular first-team starts appears to be no problem.
“I think it does gee you up – competition is always healthy and, hopefully, it'll spur me on to improve and play well this season.”
His targets are quite straight-forward.
“Just to try and start as many games as I can – and score as many goals as possible. I think that's the only way that you can look at it.”
There is also some further England Youth caps to collect after Martin's remarkable emergence onto the soccer stage last spring included a goal on his England Under-19 debut. He was back in the party at the end of the season ensuring that his summer was shorter than most.
“I had about six weeks – a little bit less than everyone else, but I got a good break in,” he said.
“Now I'm just looking to start again in Holland – and it's up to the gaffer as to how he wants to do it. Tonight he's rested one or two of the boys and probably they're going to play tomorrow so we'll just see how it goes and, hopefully, I can start a few more games.”
To his credit, he was also quick to pay tribute to one or two helping hands in his four-goal spree – even if the fourth was all his own, sumptuous work. Chadwick was certainly mentioned in despatces.
“He kept marauding down the right there and played well – and it's good to see him back as well after such a horrific injury and he's doing well.”
City boss Peter Grant was likewise delighted by Martin's efforts – a little light relief from the dark clouds that had suddenly gathered over the weekend with Huckerby's subsequent outburst ensuring that there was something familiar hitting the air conditioning…
“I'm delighted for him. And as I said to them, it doesn't matter who's come into the place, there's gauntlets thrown down to everybody.
“Chrissy's down exceptionally well last season. He might have had a dull time towards the end of it, but he's a young man.”
Overall, it had been a good night's work. Now all eyes turn to tonight's trip to The Walks and a reunion with Linnets boss Keith Webb where theCity chief will be looking for more of the same.
If there was one thing that stood out last night, it was the level of interest Norwich showed at Crown Meadow; the foot was on the gas from first minute to almost the last.
“I thought their attitude – and that's something that we keep asking them about – was first class,” Grant said.
“I thought they played everything in the right manner and the great thing is the mixture of the goals. You've got strikers scoring goals – which is always important – and the fitness levels were great.”