A wonderful hat-trick from Gary Hooper – capped by marvellous injury time free-kick from Nathan Redmond – gave the Canaries an excellent 4-0 win over bottom of the table Blackpool.
It kept City firmly in touch with the play-off pack. More importantly, it put the wind firmly back in the sails of the new Alex Neil regime and left Norwich well-placed to drive on come mid-week.
One swallow rarely makes a summer; as a section of the support will no doubt remind everyone tonight.
But for the manager there were clear positives to be had – at either end of the pitch.
A second successive clean sheet and goals and confidence flowing from one of his principal strikers.
“Gary (Hooper) has got top quality,” a delighted Neil told BBC Radio Norfolk afterwards.
“He’s got goals in him – we just need to get them out of him on a more consistent basis,” added the Norwich chief, whose own standing will have risen markedly on the back of today’s result and compelling level of performance.
“We worked last week before Birmingham on tightening us up at the back – to make sure we do keep clean sheets. And then I said all week that we will look to try and add that edge that we probably didn’t have at Birmingham.
“To have both was really pleasing.”
The manager still has one or two issues for his in-tray ahead of Tuesday night’s trip to The Valley – a back spasm saw Sebastien Bassong depart early while Cameron Jerome’s hamstrings remain a cause for caution, if not concern.
“It wasn’t a knock, it was more a sort of back spasm,” Neil reported.
“I think he just turned the wrong way and he’s done something to his back so we’ll have to monitor him over the next couple of days. It’ll be a big blow – he’s just come back into the side and has been performing well.”
As for Jerome, it was softly softly with City’s top scorer.
“I’m conscious of the fact that we have another two games this week. And we’re just watching out for his hamstring as best we can. But we want to get him minutes on the pitch to get him prepared for the games coming up.”
Whether it was the presence of Norwich new-boy Tony Andreu on the bench or the continuing talk of Graham Dorrans arriving on loan that spurred Neil’s Canaries on, either way they found themselves two goals to the good within the first 25 minutes as the recalled Hooper twice made his mark in the Blackpool box.
Tellingly, the two assists came from the two players most deemed at risk by the Scot’s wheeling and dealing in the January transfer window – Jonny Howson and Wes Hoolahan.
It wasn’t all plain sailing as Norwich looked to smooth a few Carrow Road feathers and keep themselves close to the play-off pot.
Bassong’s return from the cold lasted little more than 20 minutes before he disappeared injured and was replaced by Michael Turner.
The big question – as ever – was whether or not Norwich could see out the result simply having put themselves so comfortably in the command of the contest.
Which would mean not conceding a sloppy goal to the Championship strugglers.
And, ideally, of course adding the killer third. Which Hooper duly did 11 minutes after the restart to complete his first hat-trick for the Norfolk club. No3 for the afternoon came from the penalty spot after referee Simon Hooper adjudged Lewis Grabban to be fouled.
Up stepped Hooper to convert neatly into the bottom corner and Norwich were in danger of making this a stroll in the park.
Certainly Neil’s decision to restore Hooper to his starting plans after resting both him and a hamstrung Jerome in the 0-0 stalemate at St Andrews last weekend had delivered the goods.
Howson’s three-match ban hadn’t helped the new City chief; his return pushed the Canaries on again. The sceptics might question the strength of the opposition as Blackpool gave clear evidence of being League One bound for a reason.
But Norwich have looked all-too many similar gift horses in the mouth before now; to actually see such a contest out without the usual trials and tribulations made for a pleasant change.
With City in cruise control, Andreu got to make his home debut at the expense of Hoolahan while Grabban made way for Jerome, who appeared to be paying a heavy price for his recent hamstring woes.
Deep into stoppage time and Redmond added the icing on the cake with City’s fourth goal direct from a peach of a free-kick.
As a way to send the punters home happy, it doesn’t get much better than that.
All in all, it had been a very good day at the office for all concerned.