Norwich City's season continued to lurch from one crisis to the next after John Kennedy's 81st minute red card piled on the misery of a 3-2 away defeat at Sheffield Wednesday this afternoon.
Once again, it leaves Glenn Roeder's team planning in disarray as the Canary chief is forced to chop and change his back four again for next Sunday's derby clash with Ipswich Town.
By when, of course, the Norfolk club could be only out of the bottom three courtesy of a better goal difference than Charlton.
As it is, Norwich are now 21st and plummeting like a stone having taken four points from the last 21. In the unlikely event that the managerless Addicks travel to Blackpool and win by four clear goals on the Saturday, then Norwich will be in the bottom three.
And all with their nearest and dearest neighbours licking their lips at the prospect of adding to the Canaries woes.
As ever, City went from chalk to cheese, from Jeckyll to Hyde and from black to white at Hillsborough this afternoon – just as they did in Dion Dublin's farewell bow against Wednesday at the end of last season.
Then they were level at 1-1 at the interval – only to lose 4-1 courtesy of a second-half no-show. Today and the Canaries managed to go one better in the opening 45 minutes; leaving the pitch 1-0 up courtesy of Sammy Clingan's perfect penalty two minutes before the break.
But whatever was said at the break by Roeder and his coaching team clearly went in one ear and out of the other as two goals in five minutes from a fired-up Wednesday put the Canaries back on the seat of their pants. The fact that the on-loan Tony McMahon would level with a free header from a corner summed up the second period.
And while Leroy Lita might have dragged City level, once Marcus Tudgay headed home a 72nd minute winner and Kennedy saw red – albeit unreasonably, apparently – so same old, same old Norwich were slipping ever deeper into the mire.
“Very angry,” was Roeder's immediate reaction. “Our first-half dominance was unbelievable – did they have an attack in the first-half?
“We get the goal; they're not in the game at all. And I said to them that their manager is going to give them a right telling off at half-time – and rightly so. So let's be ready for that,” he told BBC Radio Norfolk afterwards.
“And yet I could tell within the first few minutes of the second-half that we weren't ready to deal with that high tempo that they were going to come out and play in the second-half. We weren't recognisable to the team that played in the first-half.
“And players that you expect to take responsibility for their own performances, don't.”
It was a version of events that Brian Laws agreed with. “We were rubbish in the first half – we were not on our game,” said the Owls boss, whose half-time decision to reach for the paint-stripper had the desired effect.
“I was so glad to get them in at half-time and give out some rollickings – I wanted a reaction, we got one and began to play the way we're capable of. It was chalk and cheese between the two halves, but in the end we thoroughly deserved to win.”
The bottom line is that Norwich's confidence is shot to pieces; that the moment events take a turn for the worse, so any belief and composure to their play simply drains away. Basic defending; simply doing your job and marking your man – it all goes out of the window.
“It was just incredible that players that totally out-classed the opposition in the first-half suddenly come under pressure in the manner that we did – it's totally unacceptable,” said Roeder.
Kennedy's dismissal on the day that both Gary Doherty and Darel Russell returned from their respective one and three-match bans will only add further fuel to the fire for those pointing fingers towards Norwich's disciplinary record – be it players or managers.
In fairness, Roeder opted not to question the 'curious' decision not to show Tudgay a straight red for his part in bringing down Wes Hoolahan en route to Clingan's opening spot-kick when last man; he did, however, concede that Kennedy's one-match ban was the last thing he needed – particularly if his loan deadline day chase had, indeed, been for a centre-half.
“It does leave us short – we can't deny that. We'll have a count up and see how things shape up in training this week and we will come up with a solution.”