It was not, he insisted, the whole story of the night's game. There were, he conceded, other faults at work.
But as City's caretaker boss Jim Duffy looked back over that 2-1 defeat to Burnley, his finger pointed firmly at two, big penalty decisions. One given, one not – together they condemned the Norfolk side to their sixth defeat in their last seven Championship games and ensured that any incoming manager would find his new charges pinned to the bottom of the table.
Right now only goal difference keeps the Canaries above rock-bottom Queen's Park Rangers. That could all change come five o'clock Saturday as the dust settles on City's away trip to West Bromwich Albion and QPR look to repeat Plymouth's feat of digging something out of a trip to The Valley.
“The players showed a tremendous desire to try and get something from the match,” said Duffy, with the night's contest being effectively decided within the first four minutes as Robbie Blake headed the Clarets ahead with just 55 seconds on the clock. Given that Norwich kicked off and had already earned a corner before Kyle Lafferty began to lope up-field from somewhere by his own penalty spot, it gives you an idea of the level of 'achievement' to concede a goal that soft and that early.
Two minutes later and Blake's quick feet and even quicker mind were leaving City full-back Jon Otsemobor in trouble as the referee pointed to the spot, from where one-time Canary transfer target Andy Gray calmly tucked No2 home.
“The player didn't go to ground; he didn't make a rash challenge; he got his body in front; he comes away with the ball completely under control – and I don't think even the Burnley players asked for a penalty. I don't think the Burnley fans asked for a penalty – and he gave it. A decision that baffled me as a manager,” said Duffy, swift to admit that thereafter Norwich were flat on the floor; down and out.
“I think for ten, 15 minutes after that we were very flat; again, maybe feeling a little bit sorry for ourselves. But we managed to grind ourselves back into it again.”
Cue penalty decision No2 as Darren Huckerby ducked into the corner of the Clarets box. “Darren Huckerby gets through; the boy slides in; he does go to ground; doesn't win the ball; does connect with Darren Huckerby's ankle – I've seen it on the video – and he doesn't give a penalty.”
“We're not saying that's everything to do with the result, but I think it can have a huge bearing on the result.”
What also had a bearing on the result was the fact that at 2-0 up after four minutes, Burnley put their feet up and began to gently puff on the nearest cigar. Job done.
In the end, it needed the introduction of John Hartson around the hour-mark to kick City into life as the 32-year-old loan striker not only teed up Chris Brown for his first goal in 20 attempts, but then put Brown away again with a great flick header that but for a wonderful Gabor Kiraly save would have seen second-half substitute Jamie Cureton poach a late leveller.
“John brought us into the game,” said Duffy, who sprang yet another surprise by throwing Luke Chadwick on from the start. The luckless Lee Croft watched events unfold from the bench where, for the first or hour or so, Hartson sat.
“David Strihavka had done well on Saturday and, as you know, John is still searching for his fitness and we just didn't feel his legs were quite there yet,” explained Duffy.
“But he brings us up the pitch; gets us involved; occupies defenders. And it was probably the right time to bring him on because at that time we had a grip on the game. And then Jamie Cureton came on and gave us a slightly different option, sniffing in and around the penalty box and he had a fantastic chance to get us the equaliser which he should have got. So there's light there – but we know that we can't keep saying that.
“We've got to turn the corner – and turn it soon.”
Certainly, there were some willing bodies floating around. Pride was driving Huckerby on; Brown as ever worked hard and, for once, got his reward. But the manner in which Lafferty strolled half the length of the pitch in the game's first minute again demonstrated just how flimsy City's midfield is; minus an obvious anchor, Norwich look wholly adrift. Results-wise, they are all at sea.
Duffy insisted that his players were not quietly slipping beneath the waves; that there was a fight there.
“They're not rolling over; they are rolling their sleeves up. A lot of teams here – and some Norwich teams in the past – at 2-0 down after four minutes would have capitulated. But they didn't.
“And the situation that we're in now it tells you that there is a bit of backbone to that team. And if we can just get Jimmy Smith back, Jamie Cureton back, get a little bit fitter with John Hartson then we might start to get things right.”