That went well.
We still seem to be in grip of Murphy’s Law; all part of the unhealthy hangover from that cursed Premier League campaign.
For everyone outside the Canary Nation there will have been comedic value in Teemi Pukki slipping and sliding around the Barclay End penalty spot, before contriving, double-footed, to somehow clip David Marshall’s crossbar.
Mick McCarthy and Danny Higginbottom – Sky Sports summarisers extraordinaire – at least comforted themselves with the fact that even if Pukki had hit the net, it would have had to be retaken.
The pair also agreed it was possibly a turning point and if only the Rams could just conjure up a set-piece within sight of City’s goal they might, just might, be able to nick a goal and stage a good old fashioned smash n’ grab.
That they did exactly that, with Wayne Rooney duly obliging, will have triggered high fives aplenty on the TV gantry.
For those of us not tickled pink by Pukki’s misfortune and who didn’t derive even the slightest element of joy out of the ‘experts’ proving themselves experts, it was just another in a very, very long line of Norwich City related disappointments.
We’re used to it.
Feeling let down and peed off is what we do. Our shtick. At least it has been for the last seven months.
Right now, the opening day win at Huddersfield – let’s not forget, courtesy of an individual horror show from Richard Stearman – feels like an anomaly amidst a sea of grimness, with kicks to the gonads outnumbering moments of elation by about five to one.
Thanks only to Mr Stearman, we don’t have fewer points than games played.
That yesterday’s overall performance was actually quite good in parts makes it all the more frustrating. While Farkeball 2.0 is yet to really develop into a thing, there were enough glimpses of the original version on show to suggest there is still a team in there somewhere.
But it’s one that, at the moment, is struggling for an identity.
There were moments in the first-half in particular, but also in the lead-up to the penalty, where it purred like that classic Rolls Royce engine of 2018-19.
Marco Stiepermann, Emi Buendia and Pukki would occasionally hit that grove in which we so reveled, and in those moments everything felt right again, but this is not going to be a repeat of that never-to-be forgotten campaign.
That was a one-off.
This is a different squad with a different dynamic and which, while desperately clinging onto strands of two seasons ago, has to develop a style of its own. Take Buendia’s invention out of that mix and it will look nothing like the 2018-19 version.
But the identity struggle doesn’t just come from trying, and only partially succeeding, to force what once came naturally.
With new players come new strengths and so the team and its style will naturally evolve, the most obvious example being Xavi Qunitilla’s desire to use that cultured left foot to put crosses into the box.
To coach that out of Quintilla when, clearly, it could be hugely productive, would make no sense, but you don’t need to possess the tactical vision of Bielsa to see that Pukki is not the type of striker to thrive off “elevated” crosses.
He just doesn’t. Pukki prefers cute balls slid down the channels or measured, low, near-post crosses that give him a chance to steal half-a-yard on the centre-back. He’s not going to come steaming in at the far post in a Joe Jordan style (one for the teenagers) and bundle ball, goalkeeper, and centre-back into the net.
Equally, no-one wants us to be that team that bangs high balls into Jordan Hugill at the expense of being intricate, neat and incisive around the edge of the box but, right now, Quintilla’s quality crossing is producing little and Hugill, for all his traditional number nine values, isn’t even a bit-part player.
Adam Idah too offers a different skillset to the mix whenever he gets a chance but he too is suffering from Pukki being the first name on the team-sheet.
I get that the greatest Finnish striker ever to wear yellow is showing signs of his former self, and also that being a lone striker against a back-five was a near-impossible task, but we have other options now, and if he’s not fulfilling his main role in the team then what have we to lose by tinkering?
It doesn’t mean Pukki is finished (accidental – sorry), or that he won’t come back into the team and score 20 goals, but he’s one suffering more than most from that bloody Premier League hangover.
So too is the head coach. While there is not even the slightest doubt around his tenure given the nature of the project, any coach who has overseen 16 defeats in 20 games deserves to feel a little heat. If he isn’t, then maybe that’s also part of the problem.
Those calling for his tenure to end are, in my view, jumping the gun but it’s easy to see how they arrived at that conclusion. How many other managers or head coaches in the 92 would endure a run of that ilk and not be under even a modicum of pressure?
That we have the same number of points and appear to be in a similar hole to that of early October 2018 may offer comfort to some, but this is a wholly different scenario. While we were all a little grumpy and edgy back then, there was little expectation of it being a title-winning campaign.
This season, we expect. We’re told the model revolves around potentially getting relegated but to then be in a position to bounce back better and stronger better, and so to be around. or preferably in, the top six is a must.
But, before the legions of loyalists armed with pitchforks advance on Carlton Colville, I accept we’re still only four games in. This is still very much a work-in-progress and all of the clumsy points I’ve raised will be part of the Colney debate along with many far more salient lines of thought.
There’s now an international break to help Team Farke find a formula to help us unlock defences whose sole intention is to stop us scoring.
The Buendia situation of course needs resolving. He showed yesterday why he’s so important to this team but I do fear he’s bound for pastures new. Not because he flounced after being being substituted – that was Emi being Emi – but because he’s too good for the Championship and will be worth an eleventh-hour gamble for a West Ham or a Southampton.
Either way, until the window closes there will remain an air of nervousness and uncertainty around the place. Hopefully then, armed with a squad that’s fully focused and without distraction, can we push on.
Until then, it just all feels a little grim.