Laboured, predictable and boring — all words you could use to describe Norwich City’s performance on Tuesday night.
For all the frustrations aimed at the referee and the opposition, the bottom line is that Daniel Farke’s men were not good enough to beat a quality-stricken Burton Albion side.
However, it would be wrong not to credit Nigel Clough’s side, who on the back of a 5-0 mauling at Leeds came to sit back and frustrate – a game plan they executed with relative comfort.
But in truth City made it easy for their visitors through a combination of pedestrian-like passing, a lack of ideas and wasteful finishing.
Despite the negativity of last season, you couldn’t say Alex Neil’s team were short of creativity and goals. Without those goals this time around, I fail to see how real progress can be made.
Farke doesn’t escape criticism either. I thought the substitutions came far too late, especially the introduction of Yanic Wildschut with City crying out for more pace and width.
There have been positives, including back-to-back clean sheets alongside the return to fitness of Timm Klose.
That’s something City now need to build on as we head to an in-form Sheffield United tomorrow.
The Blades are riding a wave of momentum following promotion, and the experienced duo of Clayton Donaldson and Billy Sharp up front will present a tough challenge for Klose and Christoph Zimmermann.
Should City stand up to that threat, and defend solidly as a unit, opportunities will arise for Wes Hoolahan, Nelson Oliveira and co. to exploit the space.
One thing is for certain: City will have to perform far better than recent away days.
I live in hope rather than expectation...