As the dust slowly stared to settle on this weekend's latest away-day reverse, the thoughts of Royals boss Steve Coppell made for interesting reading.
For whilst he wasn't about to look a gift-horse in the mouth when it came to Trevor Kettle's decision to give Shane Long the benefit of the doubt and award the home side a penalty for Mark Fotheringham's handball, he did however point to another turning point in the game – one that, he felt, made all the difference.
“You get some, you don't get some… ” was Coppell's immediate reaction to that penalty decision as all Norwich's best endeavours unravelled in the space of ten, disastrous minutes.
“I thought it hit the top of his arm – that was just from seeing it fresh; in real time,” added Coppell, as his promotion-hopefuls teed themselves up nicely for a huge game against Birmingham City next weekend.
At the other end of the table, of course, Norwich have their own almighty game against Charlton Athletic. Should the Addicks beat Derby County in tonight's live Sky game it would leave just five points seperating the bottom five teams – with both Doncaster Rovers and Nottingham Forest now firmly in the midst of that relegation pack.
They are both clawing their way upwards – albeit point by point – as the Canaries find the world once more turning against them as they wait anxiously on John Kennedy's knee scan. His last minute exit merely summed up events at the Madejski; Mr Kettle was the one who brought Glenn Roeder's temper to the boil.
“To be honest, the last couple of weeks I've moaned about referees,” said Coppell, refusing to be drawn any further into the great 'Was he pushed..?' debate that erupted afterwards.
“I'm going to try and not talk about them too much. Because it's a massively difficult job and at the pace that the game is played – and the conditions that the game was played in today – I don't think you can tell what's a reckless challenge and what's just an accident.
“And yet the main focus of every game nowadays is the officials. They should have done this, should have done that… I'm going to test myself and not try and talk about them if I can. But whether we'd have got the second, if we hadn't have got the first is another story, obviously.”
Coppell was happy enough to admit that the Canaries were unlucky not to have got more for their efforts; that his side were, likewise, very lucky to be in the game after ten minutes as first Darel Russell and then Matty Pattison produced midfielders' finishes on the end of crosses from first Jon Otsemobor and then a complete peach of a delivery from Lee Croft.
“We were fortunate first ten minutes – they had a great chance. And it might have been a different game had they have scored that,” said Coppell. As it was, for the travelling Canary contingent it was an all-too familiar game of what-might-have-beens.
Coming on the back of two games in the space of the proceeding six days – Norwich's trip to Watford giving them 24 hours less recovery time than Reading – the Canaries deserved every credit for the energy and commitment they brought to the occasion.
“Every team has had a busy week; it's been a nine-point week for everyone,” said Coppell, nine points in his case; three in Norwich's.
“And I do think sometimes the third game in a block is harder on the home team because as a home team it is your responsibility to take the game to the opposition. If you can.
“And with all the travelling up and down the motorways getting to games – and we played with ten men for an hour last week – all these things take their toll.”
But here comes the big 'but'; the turning point as Coppell saw it.
“The difference for me was the freshness from the bench.”
Long may have bundled into the back of Fotheringham, but he was fresh, eager and fit. At 'it' from the moment he arrived for Noel Hunt in the 79th minute; determined to put his man under pressure – legal or not.
Likewise James Henry – it was his pin-point cross that enabled Long to bag the second three minutes after Stephen Hunt's penalty as he leapt higher ahead of the tiring Gary Doherty and squeezed the ball between David Marshall and his right upright.
“At the time it looked as if the 11 that were on the field wouldn't have got a result, I had to make changes – it was lucky dip, to be honest,” said Coppell, nipping any 'Inspired substitution, Steve…' talk in the bud.
“Some times it works, most times it doesn't,” said the Royals chief, pointing at Henry's contribution to the cause in those final decisive minutes.
“He gave us the width we never had,” said Coppell, as last season's Carrow Road loan flop returned to haunt Roeder and Co.
“I had to explain to James this week that I was leaving him out and to be honest, I didn't have reasons why. I always say about my management that sometimes it is about a gut feeling rather than: 'I'm leaving you out because one, two, three…
“But James was like a firework exploding when he came on – he was obviously very determined to show me…”
And show Norwich? “That had never entered my mind, to be honest. I think he was more intent on showing me!”
The point, of course, is that with Wes Hoolahan still under the weather from his mid-week cold, Carl Cort making is first competitive, Championship appearance for 12 months and Arturo Lupoli now deemed an option for the left-wing rather than the centre, Roeder simply hasn't got that kind of strength in his threadbare squad to change games from the bench.
There are no more 'impact' players up his sleeve to throw into the mix for the last 20 minutes in the hope that one will, like Henry, 'explode like a firework' and turn one point into three.
With games Cort might; with fitness, Omar Koroma might. But that's the difference between top three and bottom five. Coppell knows that Henry and Long will.
As they proved on Saturday.