Norwich City head into Sunday’s East Anglian derby knowing that nothing other than a win will be sufficient in the quest for the Championship play-offs.
While last weekend’s defeat at Burton was hardly season-ending, it does now leave City with the proverbial mountain to climb to finish inside that top six.
If we had little margin for error before, then now, even in February, the season has reached a critical stage.
To be honest, everything about the performance was abject. Two sloppy, avoidable goals resurfaced City’s defensive woes, and once again highlighted the team’s vulnerability away from home.
And without Wes Hoolahan in the starting line-up, City hardly looked like troubling their hosts in a lacklustre first half.
Wes came on at half time, and I thought City’s use of the ball improved, but in truth Burton looked more than comfortable, and perhaps should have added to the scoreline late on.
And it’s just so frustrating. Alex Neil’s side have rightly received a lot of praise in recent weeks, but all of that progress has gone to waste.
When it boils down to it, any club with just four away wins from 17 games is going to find it tough to achieve anything meaningful.
However, if there is a game to bounce back, then a visit of Ipswich Town to Carrow Road is the perfect occasion. Taking emotion out of the equation, you have to expect City to pick up three points.
That said, it would be naive to underestimate Mick McCarthy’s side following a string of impressive results.
We know exactly how Town will approach the game but if City can match their work-rate, maintain composure, get the ball down and play like they have in recent weeks, I’m confident bragging rights will remain in Norfolk once more.