It’s hard to know where to begin.
It wasn’t great against Leicester – at least not in the first half – but we put it down to their superior quality, yet actually the clues were all there in that second half against Stoke when we were thoroughly dominated but relied on some good old Championship guts to get the job done.
As it transpired, the defeat at Rotherham just before the international break was also a clue of what was to come despite almost all of us passing it off at the time as either a ‘blip’ or a ‘wake-up call’.
But blips don’t usually come in the form of three defeats in four, and wake-up calls tend – as the name suggests – to trigger a positive reaction.
August was a fine month for City – one that few of us saw coming – but having been giddied by that unexpectedly positive start, those of us whose heads then started floating off into the clouds have been brought crashing back to Earth in September.
Four league games. One win. Three defeats. Four goals scored. Ten conceded.
Quite how it’s unraveled quite so badly is a little bit of a mystery but I sincerely hope that Team Wagner can identify it and fix it because what we witnessed yesterday was excruciating and humiliating in equal measure.
The players have taken plaudits aplenty this season, and deservedly so because there have been some good displays and some great moments, but if they believe they’ve enough credits in the bank to be spared any criticism after yesterday, they are wrong.
This one stung. Big time. Yesterday evening was not a good time to be a Norwich supporter.
With no disrespect intended to Plymouth, who were excellent on the day and did all they needed to do, this was not the same as going to the Etihad or Anfield and getting tonked or even getting hammered out of sight by Tottenham at home on the final day of the season.
This was getting mullered by a team who five months ago played in the third tier. And this is when you have a defence that contains players with Premier League experience.
By no metric was any part of yesterday afternoon acceptable.
“Disgraceful” was how my dear old dad described it, and even though his ire was clearly heightened by knowing he was only a couple of hours away from hearing from a fluffed-up Ipswich-supporting neighbour, he was right.
A performance of no redeeming features; one bereft of all the qualities needed to win a football match.
A defence that had previously stood firm when the pressure moments arrived – a welcome trait after some lily-livered efforts last season – crumbled horribly when our two centre-backs were exposed to movement and pace.
While Ben Gibson and Shane Duffy are in their element when confronted with big old centre-forwards who rely on crosses, high balls, and who they can go toe-to-toe with, when confronted with the opposite of all of those things – speed, clever movement, and rotation – they were all over the place.
And that central midfield partnership of Kenny McLean and Gabriel Sara – the one that’s worked well in forming a protective shield in front of two said centre-backs – was equally ineffective against a midfield that was content to sit deep, invite City on, and then break with pace, purpose and in numbers.
If nothing else, yesterday emphasised the importance of that defensive shield when City don’t have the ball and also how limited Gibson and Duffy are when asked to defend one-on-one.
Ironically, we were only without the ball thirty percent of the game but seventy percent of possession is useless if you can do little with it. And when we were still in yesterday’s game, between minutes one to 45, we did little to nothing with it.
No punch. No threat. Far too comfortable to defend against.
The void left by Josh Sargent was already significant but add to that another void where once stood the imposing figure of Ashley Barnes and we start to look horribly anaemic going forward.
Yes, Adam Idah scored twice and, hopefully, it will do wonders for his fragile confidence, but by then it was well and truly game over. Both were consolations, nothing more.
For his part, Hwang Ui-jo looked like someone who is still getting used to the pace and intensity of English football. Because he is. Early days of course, but the signs are that it’s a deal that’s going to benefit Nottingham Forest more than Norwich City.
If we must go scraping around for some positives, I guess we didn’t lose the second half and the substitutes made things marginally better.
Adam Forshaw proved himself to be adept at keeping the ball and keeping it moving in that deep-lying role while his presence allowed Sara to operate closer to Idah, which had a modicum of success … but I’m straw clutching.
Anything good that happened in yesterday’s second half comes with a massive caveat – namely that the game was already over.
Quite where the hell we go from here other than to Fulham on Wednesday night I’m not sure. The lack of squad depth all of a sudden looks to be a massive issue, and the fact that nine of yesterday’s starting XI were playing their third game in a week tells a little story of its own.
From being in a good place we all of a sudden find ourselves in a rotten one and all those feelings of gloom and helplessness of last season have started to resurface.
For two seasons, we had nothing to cheer about. It was grim and many of us found it difficult to engage with a club that had, almost forever, been a massive part of our lives.
But this season felt different. The hunger returned. So too did the joy.
And while yesterday may not have returned us in one fell swoop to that dark place, that horrible knot in the stomach when you wake up on a Sunday morning and realise it wasn’t all a bad dream is back.
It feels like, out of nowhere, we’ve arrived at another crossroads.