If anyone wanted a lesson in the difference between the Championship haves and the Championship's have-nots, then the pre-match thoughts of Royals boss Steve Coppell made for illuminating reading this morning.
Holed up in their Thames Valley hotel before training at Bisham Abbey today, Glenn Roeder's struggling Canaries all but pick themselves.
Certainly where it matters most – up front – and the City chief has little or no option but to play Arturo Lupoli.
With Leroy Lita ineligible to play against his full-time employers, Antoine Sibierski back in Norfolk nursing his foot injury and Carl Cort still awaiting his international clearance, the on-loan Italian is the only fit, out-and-out striker left available to Roeder.
He could yet play Darel Russell and Wes Hoolahan ahead of the Fiorentina forward; what message that would then send to Lupoli is another matter.
Pompey teenager Omar Koroma has trained and could be available on the bench; ditto Cort – if his paperwork arrives before midday today.
Last night and Roeder didn't appear to be holding out much prospect of that as Marbella and the Spanish FA take their time to process the appropriate paper-work to enable the newly-signed 31-year-old to make his first, competitive Championship appearance for 12 miserable months.
Even then, Roeder stressed, it would only be off the bench; Cort's long-troubled knee was not yet ready to start a game.
“He isn't ready to start a game,” the City chief said simply last night.
“It's impossible to expect him to be able to when he has barely had one practice game,” Roeder told the club's official website.
“He is an experienced player, but he can't possibly be up to speed in terms of match practice – because he hasn't had any. He is physically fit enough to be put on the bench and if we needed to get him on for a maximum of half an hour I'm sure he could cope with that.
“We've taken a calculated gamble with him – we don't want to break him down by putting him in and asking him to do too much too soon.”
Given that Roeder would cite the 20 days it took Liverpool to receive the clearance they needed for Fernando Torres, the chances of anyone at the Spanish FA getting out of bed to clear Cort's paperwork by lunchtime look remote in the extreme.
Hoolahan – missing from the 2-1 defeat at Watford in mid-week with a heavy cold – has now joined the Canary party down in Bisham; he ought be good for a start. Whether Lupoli is deemed to have the physicality required to put a dent in a Reading back-line that arrives at tomorrow's game buoyed by two clean sheets and six more points via the back-to-back 1-0 wins over first Barnsley and then Blackpool may yet be the $64 million dollar for Roeder and his newly reshuffled backroom team.
Royals boss Steve Coppell has now such concerns as the likes of Kevin Doyle and the two Hunts – Stephen and Noel – score goals for fun.
In midfield, his cup also over-floweth with last season's Carrow Road loan failure James Henry now starting to feature. But with a titanic clash against Birmingham City next on their agenda, Coppell is in the happy position of being able to rest up one or two players this weekend.
“You don't want to flog the same eleven lads in every single game,” said the former Palace chief, with his counterpart at Norwich having little or no alternative on that score.
“You want to make sure that things are spread around – but without rotation becoming the key word,” Coppell added. “And we depend on our midfielders to do a lot of work.
“Three games in seven days is physically demanding, so hopefully we can freshen it up again and keep the momentum.
Andre Bikey is definitely out with a shin injury with James Harper, Kalifa Cisse and Bobby Convey all looking for the nod. Royals keeper Marcus Hahnemann is also out; he will be replaced by Adam Federici.
Speaking on Wednesday night, Roeder insisted that events at Vicarage Road had done nothing to dent his side's post-derby confidence. They knew they were far better than the 2-1 scoreline suggested; that it was only a point or three that was missing from their efforts.
“The bottom line is that you know when you've played a good game,” said the City chief.
“You know when you're written a good article. No matter what anyone else says about it – you know whether it's good or not. And it's the same with professional sportsmen – they know when they've played well.
“Even if they lose. They know they've played well. And I couldn't stand playing for managers that when you've played very well and you'd lost like tonight, they'd come in and smash into you. And then you'd play poorly and sometimes win – and it does happen sometimes – they'd come in and say everything was wonderful.
“I had no respect for managers like that. I think you have to talk about the performance first and foremost. So they know that they have played well.”
They just have to do it all over again tomorrow.