Goals either side of the interval from teenage powerhouse Ishmael Miller and veteran marksman Kevin Phillips nailed the Canaries to the floor of this evening's Championship table as West Bromwich Albion strolled to a 2-0 win.
Darel Russell and Simon Lappin would both clear the ball off the goal-line as the Baggies demonstrated just why they have racked up 18 goals now at home this season; big, powerful and wholly in command of the contest for long stages, City were all too often in danger of being steam-rollered by a blue-and-white striped juggernaut.
That they weren't owed much to a big effort from skipper Jason Shackell who twice produced goal-saving tackles before the break. Otherwise, today's events at The Hawthorns merely confirmed what everyone in Norfolk already knew – that whoever takes charge of this team, be it this week or next, has a huge job on his hands.
Indeed, one or two candidates may even now take one look at both the result and the table and think: 'Nah… don't need that…'
Pre-match and, as ever, one or two things didn't go quite to plan. Chris Brown succumbing to the flu was one; QPR picking up their first away win of the season at Charlton Athletic another. That, of course, left the Canaries well and truly rooted to the bottom of the Championship. And all without a manager. Life would struggle to get much grimmer.
Jimmy Smith's first competitive start for the Norfolk club offered one glimmer of light; much has long been expected of youngster Chris Martin – he got another chance this afternoon alongside the recalled Jamie Cureton. David Strihavka was dumped back on the bench; Dion Dublin had a broken back; John Hartson was ineligible and Brown bed-ridden.
All of which found Duffy twiddling with his systems as Darren Huckerby stepped into a more central role behind Cureton and Martin; Michael Spillane provided the base of a midfield three; Russell to his right, Smith to his left.
As at Turf Moor in mid-week, City kicked off at forced a corner within the game's first 30 seconds. All of which merely prompted a Baggies' forward charge – only this time it was skipper Jonathan Greening surging goalward as opposed to Kyle Lafferty. Some big defending, in fairness, kept the home side at bay but Norwich's early nerves were not helped by some slopping possession as Jon Otsemobor gifted a pass to the feet of Miller.
The strapping 19-year-old Manchester City striker needed little invitation to drive goalward – his first effort arrowing over. Within the game's first ten minutes he would amply demonstrate why he has already bagged seven goals this season – big, menacing and very direct, he muscled his way into two good heading positions only for the ball to be deflected wide or over on both occasions.
Not to be outdone, strike pal Phillips let rip from 25-yards and forced David Marshall into a hasty push over. From the resulting corner, Martin Albrechtsen arrived like a train at the far post as Marshall came and flapped – his header flashed just wide of the left upright. Miller would drill low and hard into Marshall's mid-riff moments later.
The goal, when it came on the 15th minute mark, was not exactly much of a surprise; nor was the scorer. A deep Baggies corner from Greening found centre-half Bostjan Cesar able to nod the ball back into the six-yard box where an unmarked Miller had the simplest of chances to angle his own header in the roof of the net.
Given that was his eighth, Albion's 17th at home, there was no evidence that they were going to ease up. Morrison would skip free of Otsemobor; Phillips shrug off Murray only to sweep his final shot a little high and a little wide. Norwich were being battered. And Miller was the ram.
City's lone response was decent tackle from Huckerby, a little run and a hopeful cross in Martin's vague direction. The ball fell a good three yards in front of him, but prompted a short round of applause from the travelling City faithful. It was a straw to cling to. Huckerby, by now, was drifting back out to his usual station on the left though he was on hand to charge down a Dean Kiely clearance that, briefly, looked to be sailing in.
It was an all-too brief a respite. Just after the half-hour mark it needed an alert header from Russell on his own goal-line to deny a deflected, far post Paul Robinson header. A minute later and Shackell – not for the first time – whipped the ball off Phillips toes as he threatened; Murray had a similar feather in his cap as he slammed a door in Miller's face. Without either Norwich would have slipped even further behind.
Greening's corners caused the alarm bells to ring every time; get within 25-yards and each and every blue and white striped shirt would shoot on sight. Spillane did, at least, force a late corner before half-time arrived and, with it, the chance to cling on to the fact that there was still only one goal in it. Somehow.
The second-half started much as the first-half had finished with City pretty limp and lifeless on the ropes as Albion waded in fists a-swinging. Phillips escaped Murray's attentions only to be blocked out as he lined up a shot; Marshall did, at least, come and catch another deep Greening effort.
City did get to within sight of Kiely's goal in the 49th minute as Cureton worked himself into a decent space on the right only for his low cross to be sliced over his own bar by the covering Albrechtsen. It did little to knock the Baggies out of their stride as they promptly added a long-deserved second.
Miller wrestled his way free down the inside-left channel and his low cross found an unmarked Phillips stooping to head the ball home. Two minutes later and Lappin was clearing off the line as Miller thumped another header goalward from yet another Greening corner.
Huckerby's darting run gave Martin the chance to turn and shoot; a blue and white shirt blocked. Lappin drifted a far post cross onto Smith's head only for his effort to loop well wide. Cureton would lift a half-hit shot straight into Kiely's arms on the back of a Smith flick-on.
There was, it seemed, a little fight left. A little. Just a little.
West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Kiely; Hoefkens, Robinson, Albrechtsen, Cesar; Morrison (Gera, 60 mins), Koren, Greening, Brunt (Teixeira, 60 mins); Phillips, Miller (Beattie, 76 mins). Subs (not used): MacDonald, Pele.
Norwich City (4-4-2): Marshall; Otsemobor, Lappin, Shackell, Murray; Smith (Chadwick, 79 mins), Russell, Spillane, Huckerby; Martin, Cureton (Croft, 75 mins). Subs (not used): Gilks, Strihavka, Jarvis.
Man of the Match: Jason Shackell.