Veteran Canary striker Dion Dublin insisted that Peter Grant's City side were heading firmly down the right tracks this season despite yesterday's first hic-cup in the shape of that 2-1 defeat by Hull City.
The 38-year-old took less than four minutes to make his second-half mark at the KC Stadium as he produced a wonderful, 22-yard volley from an inviting Chris Brown header to haul the visitors level.
It could even have set Norwich en route to three big points as the Canaries threw everything forward in the game's last 20 minutes.
Unfortunately, the left the back door banging wide open – allowing an equally ageless Dean Windass the opportunity to tease and torment City skipper Jason Shackell before teeing up Richard Garcia for the game's decisive goal.
“It is disappointing,” said Dublin afterwards. “We don't want to go backwards.
“We've started the season well; we'd just got back into the game today; we let ourselves down again by letting the other team counter on us and get an easy goal that was avoidable.
“Very frustrating; very frustrating – that's the feeling in the camp. And disappointing because we knew we had a point which is great.
“And I thought when the goal went in: 'We might even nick something here…' That was the feeling in the camp as well.”
Come the end of the contest and Dublin had David Strihavka, Chris Brown and Gary Doherty for company in the Tigers' box – Doherty came the closest to grabbing a second leveller as he saw one, stooping header flick the top of the net; another big chance blocked at the final instant by a covering Hull defender.
By then, however, the damage had been done as the Canaries made it the full set for the summer – one win, one draw and one defeat. As consistently inconsistent as ever.
Individually, of course, he had proved once more that even at 38 he still has all the ability to change the course of games at this level. Technically, it was a wonderful strike – the 226th senior goal of his 18-year, professional career.
He still has a little way to go to catch the Championship's golden-est, golden oldie as 41-year-old Teddy Sheringham bagged his 348th senior strike, albeit from the penalty spot, in Colchester United's excellent 3-0 away win at Preston North End yesterday.
“I'm very pleased with my goal,” said Dublin. “It's not very often that I get a chance to score a goal like that; not very often that I'm facing goal like that, I've more often got my back to goal so it was nice to get a chance to score a goal.”
Interestingly, the former Manchester United and Aston Villa star doesn't do stats; he doesn't have every goal logged to the nearest one.
“No – I can't tell you the exact total. I know it's over 200 – that's all I know,” said Dublin, now on eight for his 11-month Canary career.
Eight goals and a Player of the Season runners-up medal – no mean feat for a player whose arrival in Norfolk last autumn as the last act of Nigel Worthington's dying reign was widely greeted with an air of disbelief.
So, does he treasure each goal scored in the twilight of his career more than those he bagged at the start, right back at the Abbey Stadium, Cambridge?
“No – I treasure them all. Just as much as I used to.
“They're harder to come by,” he admitted. “But I still enjoy every minute of it when it hits the back of the net.”
Like boss Peter Grant, Dublin insisted that most of the things that Norwich need in this division are there. Particularly at places like the KC when, sometimes, the ability to play football is not the only thing that counts.
The ability to defend more consistently – from the front end of the team to the back – is clearly one area that needs to be improved.
“I think most of the things are there today,” said Dublin, in every likelihood now entering the final year of his professional career.
“There wasn't much of a passing game – it wasn't a passing game. It was a physically strong, stand-up-and-be-counted kind of game – and we'd done that.
“There were just a few elements of the game that we let ourselves down with. Lack of experience; lack of know-how – and it showed.”
Certainly Dublin appeared to every confidence that there is enough in the Canary locker this term to make them a Championship force to be reckoned with – and that's with five days of this summer's transfer window still to play with.
Even then, opportunity will still knock for Grant to prise a Premiership loan or two out of the top flight as and when their own 2007-2008 squads start to settle down.
“I know we've got more than enough for this league,” said Dublin. “When everybody's fit, the gaffer's got what, 22, 24 players?
“We've got Chrissy Martin there; Hucks to come back – the Jarvis brothers. We've got loads of players about the camp that can do a job in the first team,” added Dublin, suggesting that the state of mind within the corridors of Colney is also in tune with a play-off challenge.
“It's all about earning the right for the shirt; don't get complacent with the shirt – you need hunger. You need hunger. And we've got it in this squad.
“We just need to be consistent with the hunger.” On top of their game – all the time, was the message. And that needs to be right now – not gradually getting the hang of it sometime round about the back end of November.
“We haven't got time,” said Dublin, quizzed as to whether a little patience might be required to allow Grant's much-changed squad to bed properly in.
“We can't afford to take time – we had that last year and we ended up 16th or 17th which is rubbish. For a club of the size of Norwich it is not good enough. It really isn't,” said Dublin, his post-football career as a straight-talking TV pundit coming on a treat.
“The players know that. What we have to do is to take on board what the manager is telling us – and do it. To the letter.
“And if it doesn't work then the manager will stand up and be counted. And we haven't done it to the letter yet.
“When we do it to the letter, I think we'll be OK.”
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