Well, it wasn’t the catastrophe many were expecting. We can say that much. On a night when Wigan hit Hull for eight, many of us were understandably fearful.
And in any given season, if you come away from Chelsea having lost 1-0 then nine times out of ten, it tends to end up in the could have been worse file. And this could have been. A lot.
There was a steel and determination in evidence that’s been absent in pretty much all of the post-lockdown offerings, and for that we have to be grateful.
But my god it was grim.
In order to achieve solidity against a Chelsea side who were itching to dish out a walloping, Daniel Farke opted to hunker down, pull the coaches in close and protect Tim Krul with everything at his disposal.
And he’ll argue it worked. Well, it did work, I guess.
But, however you try and spin in, last night’s 1-0 made it nine defeats in a row. City had 32 per cent of possession and didn’t have a single shot.
It’s no exaggeration to say that my 80-year-old mum, all 5ft of her, could have replaced Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Chelsea goal last night and done an equally competent job.
Any City fan who can clap, shrug or smile though this is made of sterner stuff than me.
What’s happened to that team that was fearless, the one that had swagger and would go toe-to-toe with anyone? The Class of 2019 wouldn’t have played Chelsea and not had a single shot
Of course, before anyone tells me, what’s really happening is we’re witnessing the debilitating effects of having zero confidence being played out before our very eyes.
Things that were once second nature are being pondered and deliberated in the mind; the fear of making a mistake (because so many have been made) now prevails over the wish to make something happen.
And we’re left with an empty shell of a team; one that now is even struggling to go through the motions. I fear for them going to the Etihad on the final day. No-one will want to be a Norwich City player on July 26.
Farke’s team selections continue to dumbfound to a degree – quite what Josip Drmic has done to justify a start is puzzling – but what’s clear is that whatever combination of XI he selects, it will be neither strong enough or big enough.
While this has been obvious to all from the word go, this lack of physicality in City ranks has been ever more apparent since the restart, with the bullying and outmuscling of yellow and green shirts as commonplace as misplaced passes and poor first-touches.
In several decades of supporting City, I can seldom recall them being this hard to watch and, like all of us, if I could fast-forward to July 27 I would.
Stuart Webber was, as ever, brilliant in front of the cameras on Monday and if we could only put aside what’s happening on the pitch right now, there would be every reason to be genuinely enthused about a new season in the Championship.
But while Stuart is bullishly and honestly talking up the good stuff, a tragedy is being played out in the here and now – one I fear will impact on the new season when it begins.
This has been bruising in the extreme and there’s a tough few weeks ahead for those tasked with getting the players’ minds right for the new campaign. All of which suggests a few departures and some new faces – some of which are in the pipeline it seems – will be no bad thing.
If ever a refresh was needed…
Let’s just hope that when this new squad takes shape, the need for bulk, muscle, physicality and pace isn’t ignored at the expense of able technicians.
The bullying has to stop.