Under-fire City chief Glenn Roeder was clinging to the hope that both Leroy Lita and Reading would agree to a half-season long loan deal this week as Norwich's season lurched once more in the direction marked 'Crisis'.
Coupled to events elsewhere, yesterday's disastrous 3-2 home defeat by fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest left the Canaries just two points clear of the drop zone.
More alarmingly for a team that have lost seven of their last eight away games, both Doncaster Rovers and Forest themselves appear to be getting their act together.
Rovers' 4-2 win at the City Ground on Boxing Day kept them heading north; this weekend's away win for Forest – coupled to any in-coming manager 'bounce' – may well leave four ex-Premiership sides scratching eachother's eyes out in a bid to avoid following both Leicester City and Leeds United into League One.
Even then, the garden is not that rosy. For of the four – Southampton, Norwich, Charlton Athletic and Watford – few would have City down as the 'form' team. And given that half of Roeder's troops are someone else's, events of the next five weeks are likely to prove crucial.
Can Lita be persuaded to sign up till the end of the season when he can walk for free out of the Madejski? And have Fulham and Elliot Omosuzi sorted out their differences – or will the teenage centre-half be whipped back to Craven Cottage in that seven-day window of opportunity?
For now, Roeder was insisting that Lita's extended tour of duty was very much on the cards as the state of the football economy comes to Norwich's rescue – that in these credit-crunched times, no-one will be of a mind to shell out, say, ?400,000 for his services in January when they can pick him up for nothing in the summer.
“Of course, we'd like him [Lita] to stay,” said the City chief, the pressure on his own position inevitably starting to mount.
“The squad at the moment is very, very lightweight – to say the least. Everyone knows that. When you look at the injuries and the loan players that have gone back, we're down to about 14 outfield players.
“And we need to increase that to as many as we can. But I'm not silly – I know the situation. We won't be able to get in five or six, but hopefully we'll be able to get in two or three.”
One of whom – if not two of whom – need to provide goals. The third needs to be a six-foot plus centre-half. All three will need character and commitment by the bucket-load as the Canaries stare over the edge of the abyss once more.
“With Leroy we would very much like to keep him – and Reading know that. And we'll be working on that over the next couple of days – he can stay on a second-half [season] loan now.
“The three months – the 93 days are up – but you can convert that to a full, half-season loan. And we would like to do that,” added Roeder. “And Reading know that. Whether we can achieve that we will have to wait and see, but we will certainly be working hard on trying to make that happen.
“And having spoken to Leroy several times over the last couple of weeks he would very much like to stay.”
Should Reading demand a transfer fee for the 24-year-old – something that they are well within their rights to do given that he has six months still to run on his Royals contract – the whole picture would change again.
“The sort of money that they're looking for would make it very difficult for anybody – not us – to buy him on a permanent deal. Because he's only got four and a half months before he's a Bosman [free transfer]. So at the end of the season he could leave Reading for nothing.
“And in the economic climate at the moment – in football and everywhere – it is going to be very hard to find anybody to raise the sort of money that Reading are looking for for someone who's free in four and a half month's time.”
As for the game itself – all but decided in the first half-hour as two more soft strikes saw Forest stroll into a 2-0 lead – Roeder admitted it was a poor day at the office. Those kind of performances need to be reserved for away-days where there might be only 750-odd luckless Canary souls there t witness it.
Delivered to Norwich's biggest home crowd of the season and the fury and the frustration that punctuated the game was as much inevitable as it was understandable. It stank of League One, in short.
“Today is as poor as we've played in a long while,” admitted Roeder afterwards, subject to a chorus of 'You don't know what you're doing…' as Antoine Sibierski replaced Matty Pattison in the second-half.
At which point Wes Hoolahan became the third person to occupy that left-sided midfield role after David Bell was first assigned the position.
Arturo Lupoli – nominally now a left-winger in Roeder's eyes – didn't even make it to the bench this weekend. The suspicion remains that the 21-year-old Italian will return back to Fiorentina before being moved on again in Serie A.
It will not have escaped anyone's attention that Jamie Cureton also made it two in two for his new employers Barnsley this weekend – given the way that his veins run with yellow and green blood, can Roeder afford to keep him at Oakwell if te Tykes have now restored his confidence in front of goal?
“I thought there were periods in that game where we all seemed to be strangers; that we didn't know eachother's way of playing – and that's very disappointing.
“That's why when you do play well – like we have done over the past month – you have to pick up points. And we haven't always done that.”