City's final dress rehearsal of the summer failed to go exactly to plan this afternoon as Glenn Roeder's Canaries were held to a 2-2 draw by East Anglian neighbours Colchester United.
Bright and sharp enough before the break, Norwich simply lacked any real punch in the final third – or at least until the arrival of Darel Russell at the interval.
Cast into a second striker role in City's continuing lack of an out-and-out target man, Russell grabbed two goals in the space of three minutes to first wipe out Steve Gillespie's 44th minute, lobbed opener and put the home side briefly in charge of the contest.
Because a minute after Russell's second, Anthony Wordsworth was driving a horse and cart through Norwich's offside trap to calmly roll the ball beneath David Marshall for the U's leveller.
Not the best preparation for Coventry City (a) next Saturday, but not the worst in pre-season memory.
With all eyes on Arturo Lupoli and his shiny red boots – that and the way that John Kennedy settled in at centre-half – it was U's old-boy Jamie Cureton who was the first to shine with a fine, acrobatic volley in the inside-right channel that prompted an equally fine save from the in-demand Dean Gerken.
With the Canaries looking sharp and bright both on and off the ball, the contest kicked off at a decent tempo; as for Lupoli, it was swiftly clear that he will lack little by way of technique. That was clearly natural; it will be attitude, not ability that dictates his fate in Norfolk this season.
Not that either Wes Hoolahan or Mark Fotheringham are short in that regard. For while Gerken had little extra to trouble him in the game's opening exchanges, Norwich were certainly pushing the ball about with a definite fizz.
The real alarm came in the 15th minute when Dejan Stefanovic's solid clearance merely resulted in the Serb slamming his shin into Dean Hammond's out-stretched boot and tumbling heavily to the turf. Given that Roeder has already lost Gary Doherty for the autumn, the sight of the former Pompey hero demanding the physio's attention was not ideal.
Why Stefanovic remained such a favourite with the Fratton Park faithful was not hard to fathom as he picked himself up, dusted himself down on the touchline and strode purposefully back into the early evening fray.
Lupoli demonstrated all too much 'purpose' when he whipped John White's legs from beneath him with a fierce – and little belated – sliding tackle in the 26th minute. A strong word as opposed to an unwanted yellow card followed.
The Fiorentina striker was evident again just after the half-hour mark with a crisp, low drive from just outside the U's box which Gerken – admired, in particular, by Sheffield United – dealt comfortably enough with.
A minute before the interval, however, and Norwich's comfortable – if largely chanceless – afternoon, took a distinctly sickly turn as the U's opened the scoring.
After Stefanovic had marked his Carrow Road debut with a tenth minute own goal against Spurs, Kennedy had his own moment of misery to look back on as the ball got stuck beneath his foot and from there rolled invitingly to a waiting Gillespie.
One little look to spot Marshall caught in no man's land by Kennedy's error and the U's record summer signing was lofting a sweet, 22-yard lob back over the City keeper's head. Forced to desperately back-pedal Marshall could do little more than claw the ball one-handed out of the air and watch as it looped up and on into an empty net.
Stood on the touchline already barking orders, Roeder would not have been impressed.
Come the break and the City chief was ringing the changes as Lupoli made way for Russell and Lee Croft stepped into Pattison's shoes.
That, in turn, forced a tactical re-think as Norwich's lack of an obvious target man forced Russell to drop into the little hole behind Cureton as Sammy Clingan and Fotheringham continued to hold the fort in Russell's normal habitat.
It might only be a pre-season friendly, but the Canary chief will not have been looking to go into an away-day at the Ricoh with a home defeat by Colchester United weighing heavily on everyone's mind.
Fortunately, a wonderful through-ball from Hoolahan – bettered only by Russell's curling, 25-yard finish into the far corner – rode to Roeder's rescue just before the hour mark. Pre-season friendly or not, it was a peach of a strike from the Canary substitute from the far corner of the U's box. It equally demonstrated Hoolahan's ability to pick a pocket or two.
Just for good measure, Russell added a second four minutes later. Again it was Hoolahan putting the move in motion; squeezing Croft in down the right. His low cross found Russell alone in the inside right channel and his side-footed finish bobbled in off the far upright. Half-time panic over; normal service had been resumed.
For all of two minutes. Mark Yeates squeezed in between the two City centre-halves as Anthony Wordsworth weaved his way along the line. Totally free and with just Marshall to beat, the U's teenager squeezed his fifth goal of the summer beneath a horribly exposed Marshall.
Norwich City (4-4-2): Marshall; Omozusi, Kennedy (Otsemobor, 81 mins), Stefanovic, Shackell; Hoolahan (Chadwick, 81 mins), Clingan, Fotheringham, Pattison (Croft, 45 mins); Lupoli (Russell, 45 mins), Cureton (Martin, 81 mins). Subs (not used): Nelson, Smith, Eagle, Renton.
Man of the Match: Darel Russell.