Watch Chris Hughton’s post-match interviews on the BBC and one thing starts to stand out – his demeanour rarely changes.
Win, lose or draw, Hughton is neither belly to the floor if Norwich lose nor, equally, head in the clouds if City win.
He is steady, uniform, consistent and sensible. Which, in itself, all-but explains why the Norwich of Fulham (a) has now morphed into the Norwich of Arsenal (h), Spurs (h) and Manchester United (h).
They are, in short, sensible. In every sense of the word.
For one thing, the Canaries have to be tight. They can’t carry more than one ‘open’ player into this league and hope not to be found out.
Which, for now, is rough justice on a David Fox, a Jonny Howson and a Jacob Butterfield. The reality is, however, that the sweat and graft that Bradley Johnson and Alexander Tettey bring to that midfield space out-weighs the time and craft others might bring to the table.
But in denying their Premier League peers the space in which to hurt them, so Hughton’s men have also managed to find that one moment in any game when opportunity knocks goal-wise – and, more importantly, take said chance when it arrives.
Anthony Pilkington was the latest to deliver with that fabulous header that did for the Premier League leaders this weekend.
That the lad can finish has not been in doubt since he made his top flight bow under Paul Lambert last season. It is, Hughton noted afterwards, a big string to his bow; credit to the manager for keeping faith with the one-time Blackburn teenager.
He also has the athleticism and the whip to his delivery to be the proper Premier League part. His absence earlier this autumn was keenly felt; you never know what you have got till it is gone is the old adage – and Pilkington’s return to the fray has proved that point again.
“It’s probably about time,” was the manager’s quip afterwards. That far post finish – or near flicked header, in Saturday’s case – drove Norwich up the table under Lambert’s watch. As it is again under Hughton’s.
“With the quality Pilkington’s got, he is somebody that should be chipping in with goals,” said Hughton. “That’s something we’ve asked of him. I thought he was the threat and I thought he played really well.
“He is a threat when he gets in that final third. It was a really excellent header. I don’t think the goalkeeper had much of a chance.”
Indeed it was. It was the finish of a quality player. More importantly still, it was the finish of a fit quality player.
And here comes another point that has underpinned City’s rise from bottom three to 13th in the space of five, glorious weeks.
The big players – players that make a big difference to this side – are staying fit.
Again, go back to an old adage – consistent sides selection-wise tend to produce consistent performances and if those performance are consistently at the appropriate level, then a consistent run of result will invariably follow – whoever the opposition is.
One of the challenges for those in the top four is that such is the strength and depth of their star-studded squads that they rarely field the same starting XI one week to the next. Usually, of course, the players are of a quality that they can drop straight into a team and fire on all cylinders; click straight back into gear with their team-mates.
But not always.
On occasion, a United, a City, a Tottenham or an Arsenal will deliver a performance that is tired; slightly disjointed; over-reliant on one individual delivering the goods. One nine among a sea of sixes and sevens.
The success of a West Brom or, more recently, a Norwich is to deliver half a dozen performances that are worthy of an eight. Week in, week out, they hit that level.
John Ruddy would be one.
Rare is it for the England international to slip off that mark. Ditto a Sebastien Bassong. A Johnson and a Tettey.
Holt might not be among as many goals as he would like, but the shifts are big and compelling. He still leads from the front. And between the Canary skipper and the platform that Tettey-Johnson delivers is Wesley Hoolahan – flitting in and out of the spaces that only he can see; pulling flatter fours this way and that; unsure whether to sit and mark their space or follow the Dubliner deep into Norwich territory and for their own shape to suffer as a result.
It is a very sensible team selection for the challenges that a team of Norwich’s ilk face batting at this level.
But deliver good sense on a consistent-basis and progress up the table follows suit.
And all credit to Mr Hughton for delivering such sense with such distinction in such short a time.