As City hero Darren Huckerby watched Glenn Roeder's loan quartet march into Colney this morning, you wondered whether or not that would prompt a wistful smile.
It did, as the 32-year-old, two-time Player of the Year graciously recognised that Old Father Time might be catching up with everyone; that a new generation of Carrow Road favourites had potentially walked through the doors of Colney – even if they would all walk out of that same door come the summer and back to their Premiership employers.
The fact that both Chelsea's Ryan Bertrand and Arsenal's Keiran Gibbs will have one eye on that left-midfield berth will not have gone unnoticed. Nor their age. Both are 18 and at the very start of a long and glittering top flight career.
And while Huckerby proved that he still has plenty left in his locker with a trade-mark darting run into the box after his arrival as a second-half substitute at St Mary's on Tuesday night, the world is moving on.
Few would bet against Huckerby joining his long-time pal Dion Dublin in an emotional farewell come the final home game of the season. Both are out of contract this summer; the 38-year-old Dublin has already mapped out his retirement plans; Huckerby is clearly starting to ponder the next chapter in his own footballing life.
As ever, he will do his own bidding after his long-time agent Phil Smith today told the Norwich Evening News that his client would be leaving this summer. Just as he insisted that Huckerby would never be coming back to Carrow Road after his three-month loan spell in the autumn of 2003.
Four years later and Huckerby and his family are as much part of the Norfolk landscape as the Gunns, the Flemings and the Goss'. And nor is he about to be handed a timetable by Mr Smith.
“He's entitled to his own opinion – as he's done before and when he turned out to be wrong,” said the City favourite at Colney this morning, as he offered his first reaction to Smith's farewell speech.
“Who knows? My contract is up at the end of the season – and my loyalty should never be questioned to this club.”
He has had other offers; more money elsewhere. Gordon Strachan's Celtic were long-time admirers; Neil Warnock has also had a nibble while Sheffield United boss. All failed as Huckerby buys into Norfolk life.
“I will serve out the remainder of my contract and then we will see from there. I haven't been offered anything by the club – and I haven't really spoken to the club. So read into that what you will.”
He knows that forcing his way into Glenn Roeder's starting thoughts is becoming a tougher challenge. Hip issues apart, Gibbs doesn't arrive in Norfolk on the basis of him getting the odd game here and there. Gunners chief Arsene Wenger will expect to see the 18-year-old's name figuring regularly – as, indeed, will the kid himself.
Couple that to Roeder's one winger policy away from home and an unbeaten run now stretching back ten games and Huckerby can't see too much changing immediately.
“I know I'm not possibly the future of the club any more,” said Huckerby, heart as ever firmly on sleeve.
“Which is obvious – me and Dion are getting old now. At the minute I haven't decided what I'm going to do, but like I say, this club means a lot to me. And I would never leave lightly.”
The rumours have flown thick and fast this window with a reunion with Carl Robinson and Jim Brennan in the MLS with Toronto FC being the drum that was banged the loudest.
Huckerby has already said that, out of loyalty to the Canary cause, he would never play for another English club. And he ain't budging from that his place in the club's all-time Hall Of Fame long assured.
“You should know by now that I'm a man of word – whenever I've said something, it's been right,” said the City star, as he knocked the MLS rumours into the long grass.
“There's been a lot of rumours, but if anyone had asked me I'd have told them straight away – what? I was meant to be signing for Palace, going to Toronto last week.
“But if you'd asked me then I'd have told you that my loyalties have always been to Norwich City – and it will be till the end of my contract.”
In fairness, he has had every reason to depart as that one season in the top flight was followed by a particularly miserable run of form and fortune – all laced with much off-field poison as that relegation hangover lingered for, arguably, at least two seasons. Only now under Roeder's charge are the clouds beginning to lift.
“I'm one of the few ones that has stayed – through thick and thin. Other people have left whenever they could – as soon as they got the chance,” said Huckerby, an accusation that could be levelled at Messrs Green, Ashton, Etuhu, Earnshaw and Safri – even if, on occasion, few would begrudge their chance of tasting Premiership football again.
“Like I said, I will honour my contract which I think is very important.”
And he's realistic. The team is winning; if it ain't bust, the manager may be in no hurry to fix it. Or if he is, it could be with someone 14 years Huckerby's junior – and with their own, long career laying in front of them.
“It's disappointing, but the team's winning,” said Huckerby. “I want to play – don't get me wrong. But at the minute everything is working out pretty well. And the most important thing is Norwich City.
“Long after I'm gone, there'll still be Norwich City. I'm only going to be playing for a couple more years – and then I'll be watching Norwich City.”
As we said, Huckerby's going nowhere. He's part of the scenery.