Again Dougie Freedman tinkered and left out spearhead Craig Davies in what must of been an attempt to try and stifle Derby County's passing game in midfield. Chung-Yong Lee and Liam Feeney started in the wide positions and there was an air of optimism around the Macron Stadium as the whistle blew after the encouraging fight displayed in the midweek defeat at Chelsea.
The optimism was well founded as the Whites started positively and on three minutes only a timely block from Richard Keogh prevented Joe Mason from converting Feeney's cutback from the right.
Things soon took a turn for the worst when Craig Bryson was upended by a combination of Matt Mills and the returning Kevin McNaughton and the all to familiar sight of the referee pointing to the spot ensued. Andy Lonergan read Chris Martin's saveable kick and pushed the ball away for a corner to continue his recent good form.
The next fifteen minutes continued to be encouraging with Mason going close when Lee Grant had to tis his sidefooted effort wide at the near post from Chungy's intelligent ball. Jamie Ward nearly opened the scoring for The Rams when Dean Moxey neglected to track his run after a one-two on the right wing but his effort drifted wide of Lonergan's far post. The one that got away, Jordon Ibe, sent in a dangerous cross which Lonergan was able to gather with danger lurking.
The warning signs weren't heeded as with 38 minutes gone Chungy lost out to right back Cyrus Christie in a 50-50 and made no attempt to track his ensuing run from Bryson's pass which left Martin with the chance to nip in front of the static Trotters back line to covert Christie's superb cross at the near post to give Derby the lead.
The sighs in the stands were audible and half time rolled around with the familiar sound of boos and frustration which weren't entirely warranted on reflection of the performance but understandable with yet another interval deficit to stomach.
The second half brought little in terms of chances or cheer with only a half-hearted appeal for a penalty for an apparent nudge on Matt Mills to get excited about. Derby's passing became more crisp and purposeful while each of Mills' aimless diagonals that failed to find a white shirt or drifted out of play was met with louder and louder boos.
Ibe, endlessly drifting into space the whole game, hit the side netting after getting in behind Moxey on 56 minutes.
The next minute ended any hope of snatching a point as a poor goal kick and an overhit pass from Mills to Garvan was snapped up by Bryson despite the Irish midfielder's best attempts and then squared to Martin to smash home his second and drain any life left out of the Wanderers.
The match became a sideshow to two separate pitch invasions which were met with applause as even the usual non-dissenters turned on Freedman and also Gartside with continued chanting.
Mason had a goal disallowed for a clear foul and as the game meandered to a close. Derby sub Johnny Russell spurned two great chances to add insult to injury after rounding Lonergan but overrunning the ball and then almost straight away when he latched onto a ball over the top only to loft his volley onto the roof of the net.
The majority of the crowd had left when full-time put an end to the misery.
It is hard to think there is a way back for Freedman after this latest non-performance. Yes, the effort is there as he keeps hanging on to but the players look paralysed by fear and have no clear direction or game plan.
After last Tuesday's win over Rotherham and the way Mason was able to exploit gaps forced by Craig Davies toil and endeavour you would have thought Freedman would leave that partnership to flourish but in his wisdom he decided to let Mason plough the lone furrow that everyone can see does not play to any of his strengths.
The decision to persevere with the beleaguered Moxey at left back when Tim Ream is a more confident and trustworthy alternative at the moment also baffles. There are many sticks to beat Freedman with and it is all too easy to lay the blame solely at his door for the clubs failings but the feeling is that the overwhelming negativity around the place will only lift with a change of manager now. It is on the verge of getting as bad as when Gary Megson was forced out.
Who knows what the future will bring but Wednesday's game at Craven Cottage between what were once two proud clubs, punching above their weight playing in Europe now becomes a massive Championship relegation six pointer.
Let's hope that somehow Freedman stumbles across a winning formula down in London but I wouldn't hold your breath...