Canary keeper David Marshall was under few illusions after yesterday's 2-1 derby defeat. Norwich didn't show up. End of.
“If you could pick something to do in the first ten minutes, it would be to get an early goal,” said the Canary No1 as the post-mortems north of the border continued.
For that was one of the many frustrations. City delivered on that front as Ched Evans took aim from some 25-yards distant and saw the ball skip on and beyond Stephen Bywater in the Town goal. Job done. Well, for at least the next eight minutes.
“After that we just never turned up,” added the Scottish international keeper, with 2,000-plus others left to ask themselves why they ever did.
“In recent weeks we've been playing pretty well and maybe not getting results we deserve, but today we cannot complain.”
The fact that it didn't end up in the realms of a four or five-one defeat owed just as much to the host's wayward finishing as Marshall's actions thereafter.
It summed up just how easy Ipswich found it to carve out chances, that for every decent Marshall save, you could name a poor Town finish.
Tommy Miller's free-kick saved; Pablo Counago's header over. Marshall's left-foot stop to deny Counago; Danny Haynes' horrible sweep wide. The list continues.
“After the start we had, it's disappointing,” said Marshall, who will now find himself in Kevin Phillips' firing line this weekend as the title-hunting Baggies head for Carrow Road.
As a veteran of the whole Rangers-Celtic rivalry in Glasgow, the 23-year-old clearly has more idea than most as to what these games can mean to supporters with fierce, tribal loyalties.
Equally Marshall can see enough bigger pictures to realise where that left the Canaries in terms of this season's relegation fight – still firmly within sight and smell of the whiffy stuff.
“It's the same as any derby – just disappointing. But there's a lot of other things riding on it,” he said. “We're still not clear of relegation – so it's just a bad day all round, really.”
As for where it all went wrong, Marshall joined Huckerby in suggesting that the Canaries never, ever really got their passing game together. On the basis of never knowing what you've got till its gone, the biggest 'winner' out of yesterday's non-events may prove to be Mark Fotheringham.
Ruled out with a neck strain sustained in training on Saturday morning, the City skipper's ability to keep the ball moving from one side of the pitch to the other was sorely missed – particularly against a decent footballing team of Ipswich's ilk. Unable to match pass for pass and unable – above all – to bring Darren Huckerby's influence to bear on proceedings and City were a shadow of the side that Fotheringham had orchestrated so well in the Ashton Gate storms.
“We got an early goal, but I don't think we passed the ball well,” said the Canary keeper, caught firmly in the headlights as wave after wave of blue shirts descended in his direction. By and large, Marshall was able to escape with his honour intact.
“It's not nice – especially at a place like this and it being a derby,” he said.
“We expected to do a lot better; we never created anything and I don't think Bywater had anything to do second-half. So, as I say, disappointing.”
All eyes now on the Baggies game. After that it is all the emotion that is likely to surround Dion Dublin's last home game – and, potentially, that of Huckerby – in the visit of Queen's Park Rangers. Fail to win either and while two draws might still be enough, Norwich could yet find themselves Hillsborough-bound with a winner-takes-all final day clash with Sheffield Wednesday.
The likelihood of that prospect will become slightly more clearer later tonight as the Owls play Plymouth.
“We have to keep ourselves right and focussed on the next game, but not worried,” said Marshall, quizzed as to whether the drop-zone alarm bells were ringing again.
“We're four points clear; there's only nine points left to play for – so it'll be hard for other teams to catch us. But I think we'll need a big difference in performance next week.”
Momentum – as in those back-to-back home wins over Colchester United and Burnley – put Norwich within sight of the finishing line; it's that same momentum that City have to rediscover again against West Bromwich Albion if they want to avoid being dead in the water at the most important stage of the season.
“We never played well; it could have been a lot more,” he admitted. “But it doesn't matter whether it's 2-1 or 6-1 – you're beaten against your local rivals, so it's disappointing.”