City winger Lee Croft will travel to South Yorkshire tomorrow in desperate search of a big pick-me-up at Bramall Lane on Saturday.
For even a bottle of bubbly and the Man of the Match award in Tuesday night's 1-0 home defeat by promotion-chasing Stoke City was little consolation for a second, straight home defeat – and all to the biggest, sucker punch of a goal.
With just one win from their last six games, Glenn Roeder's “flat” patch continues. Hence the need to dig out a real tonic for the troops this weekend against the Blades.
“Not at all – I just wished we would have won,” said Croft, asked as to whether that Man of the Match champagne made City's latest reverse any easier to swallow.
“Performance-wise it was better – we passed it well; we got forward; we created things. On that side of things, it was good. But it doesn't make you feel any better coming away when you know you've lost three points.”
And that was the key. For all their much-improved movement, for all the resiliance they showed for all but one moment of the night's contest, the result was everything. One long throw, one soft header and the Canaries have now got to spend the last eight games scrabbling about looking for those last half-a-dozen or so points they still need to guarantee them safety.
And in the meantime they can sit back and watch as the Stokes and the Watfords slug it out for an automatic ticket to the top flight. The pair actually meet this weekend at Vicarage Road – Danny Shittu versus Mamady Sidibe, Rory Delap versus Leigh Bromby.
It might not exactly be a Thriller in Manila, but it will still be one almighty clash of two, Championship heavyweights.
For what both make lack in entertainment, both more than make up for in brute effectiveness. Smash their way to the top flight and few supporters will be complaining – that will come if either side fails to adapt and goes on to give Derby County a run for their money in terms of a Premiership season being all but over by Christmas.
That's the $64 million question – can in the course of one summer Messrs Boothroyd and Pulis swap beauty for the beast? For up there among the footballing gods, not only are players invariably six-foot plus tall; big, strong, athletic; with pace, power and everything else to burn… but they can also play.
“It's sides like that who have been effective this year – your Watfords and your Stokes. They're effective at it and you've got to counter-act that,” said Croft, which the Canaries did. Almost.
And perhaps on other nights, as the 22-year-old winger got his supply line going in the game's dying minutes, someone, somewhere might have bagged one of the clutch of big chances that Norwich created. Ched Evans would have powered his free header in; Jamie Cureton would have stabbed his three-yard effort right of the post as opposed to the left…
“A few of the lads had a few chances; we could have won two or three-one, but it wasn't to be tonight. The goals didn't go in and it's case of still having to push on to get that elusive win,” admitted Croft afterwards.
Given the performance levels on offer against Leicester, Blackpool and Coventry, there was more than the odd straw to cling to. The Canaries were bright and inventive for much of Tuesday night's game and broke with both numbers and purpose whenever the occasion allowed.
But it is, as Roeder noted afterwards, goals that win matches. And with just 19 at home to their name all season, that's where Norwich's real problems lie. The law of averages insists that no-one will go through a season without conceding a goal at home – particularly to sides like Watford and Stoke who play the percentages all the time. Hence the over-riding need to trump their one, predictable strike with at least two or three of your own.
Hence Roeder's revelation afterwards that he had been trying to prise something out of the striker loan market for the last two weeks in a bid to try and improve City's goal tally over the last few weeks of a long and testing season.
“I think that was the only way that they were going to score,” said Croft, as he looked back at the game's decisive moment – Delap's 58th minute missile into the near post that found Canary keeper David Marshall caught squarely in No Man's Land as the giant Sidibe rose to flick the ball.
“We play the better football, they've not really created much all night; they throw a ball in and head it over Marshy,” said Croft. “And obviously it was disappointing – we had chances. We played some better football than we have done in the last few weeks, but come away with nothing.”