City keeper David Marshall could not hide either his fury or his frustration at the decision that could yet cost Norwich there place in the Championship.
Of course, 201 other decisions over any number of seasons have also played their part in leaving the Norfolk club sat squarely in the drop zone with just two games to go, but the decision that is on everyone's lips tonight is that of derby official Neil Swarbrick as he adjudged Marshall to have been the guilty party as Kevin Lisbie went a tumbling in front of the North Stand this afternoon.
Eventually, the Lancashire official decided it was penalty. Up stepped Giovani dos Santos and from 12 yards out calmly drilled a big, fat nail into Norwich's Championship coffin with a 62nd minute strike that did so much to condemn the Canaries to today's 3-2 derby defeat.
Not that either player or manager were giving up yet; both Marshall and boss Bryan Gunn would insist afterwards that survival remained within Norwich's grasp.
But both brought a burning sense of injustice to the post-match inquests as yet another big, big call went against the Canaries.
“I never touched him,” said the 24-year-old City No1, still at a loss to explain the shattering events that would unfold around that hour mark. And whether, even with hindsight, he would have taken a different – and less costly – course of action.
“I'm still racking my brains as soon as it happens to see if I could do it differently,” he said, with Town boss Jim Magilton admitting afterwards that he could see little wrong with Marshall's actions.
Indeed, TV replays would suggest that Lisbie's arm even scooped the ball up and away from the advancing City keeper; not that either referee or far linesman noticed.
“Maybe, I should have stayed on my line… but if I'd stayed on my line, he's still one-on-one. And I don't even move towards him as he kicks it…” added Marshall, still almost numb with shock.
“I know it's going wide, so I stop… He has to jump… that's the only thing I can think. It's never a penalty.”
Subsequent 'discussion' with the referee merely confirmed – in Marshall's eyes – that he didn't know what to do next; that, in every probability, he had been bounced into a decision by a baying North Stand. Certainly the linesman never gave any indication of seeing anything untoward.
“He's not got a clue, the referee,” said the Canary keeper. “He's come up to me and he said the ball's went well wide – that's what he said to me.
“And I said: 'That's the whole point – it's not a penalty!' But he says: 'It's still a foul…'
“And then he hears the Ipswich fans shouting: 'Off! Off! Off!' And I can see his brain thinking: 'Oh, sh*t, I've got to do it…' Thinking about it like that. He never had a clue, honestly.”
The fact that the official on the far touchline was offering no guidance clearly left the referee with a huge decision to make.
“If it was such a stonewall penalty, he would have given it straight away as well,” said Marshall, with reason.
“And he's looked to his linesman and I don't know whether he's not given a penalty – or just sat on the fence. He's actually taken that long that I'm thinking he's coming over to book the boy for diving.
“It's hard. But if I had my time again, I'd probably do the same again – I cannot see anything that I'd do different.”
It changed the complexion of the game completely, though it was far from the only factor in deciding both the fate of the day's derby honours and – potentially – Norwich's very Championship status.
Little things like Town's loss of Ben Thatcher to injury only to be replaced by the quick-silver runs from left-back of Jamie Peters altered the balance of play; as, of course, did Jon Stead's killer third goal in the game's dying minutes as the City back-line froze to a man in a vain appeal for offside.
Whether Norwich actually deserved to win the game is debatable; most of a kinder heart might give them a share of the spoils. But Town took the second-half.
“It is a really bad result,” said Marshall, particularly coming on top of Forest's win against Coventry City yesterday and Barnsley's priceless point at Reading.
Norwich now have just the two games left – at home to Reading on the Monday night and away to Charlton the following Sunday. They cannot afford to lose either game. The margin for error is now all-but nil.
“I think only six points from the last two games will give us a bit of a hope – we've just got to take it on the chin and get on with it,” said Marshall, setting his sights on 52 points and Norwich's better goal difference sparing them a trip to Yeovil and beyond next year.
“I think that's the positive – that if we win both, we will stay up.
“And I believe that. And we've just got to do it. It's a tough game [against Reading]; they've got to come now and take points to even get into the play-offs.
“So, like I say, I think if we get six points we will stay up but it's going to be a big ask.”
The die was now cast.
“That's all we can do now – win those two games. And if we win those two games then, personally, we'll be alright.”