Yet another abysmal opening to a Championship season continued with Bolton Wanderers' pathetic 1-0 away defeat to a poor MK Dons side. The failure to score sets a club record six matches without a goal, which is more than halfway towards the Football League record of 11 goal-shy matches set by Coventry City (in 1919/20) and Hartlepool United (in 1992/93) - although that may not include cup matches.
Neil Lennon and his side did little to silence the boo boys that have begun to circle around them, as the players on the pitch once again let down their manager, themselves and, most importantly, the 800 or so supporters who made the trek to Milton Keynes.
Perhaps the most shocking part of Bolton's play is the inability to convert chances when we're in control of a match. We bossed the first half tonight, winning no less than 11 corners and didn't muster a single shot on target from those set pieces. That is appalling. Worse still, we had 18 shots compared to MK Dons' 11 and only managed to get five on target - two of which Clough should have scored. We also had Dean Moxey taking direct free-kicks - what on earth is happening to our club?
Making things worse, when things aren't going well there's no Plan B or backup option on the bench. Emile Heskey came on with 20 minutes to go and barely caused a problem for what is frankly still a League One defence, while Tom Walker, who was probably our best player in the last ten games of last season, only came on when the game was already lost in the last minute. Pointless.
How are the likes of Mark Davies, Zach Clough and a big striker like Gary Madine not able to score in four matches this season? Something has to be fundamentally wrong with either the way team is being prepared, how it's being setup for matches or with the players themselves. Or most likely a combination of all three.
I believe there's also an argument that our formation is part of the reason behind our failure. Bolton reverted to Lennon's diamond 4-4-2, with Clough in the hole behind Madine and Liam Feeney, leaving us with absolutely zero width. The threat of Clough is totally negated in this position as struggles to find space and is too easily marked out of matches, while every man and his dog can see that Feeney is not a striker. If we insist on putting Feeney on the pitch then he has to be played out wide, at least there he can run at full-backs and is less likely to stray offside - which is basically the only thing he did do tonight.
Making the nightmare that is yet another terrible Championship season opener even worse is the fact that Moxey went and picked up an injury as the club is on the verge of selling our only other left-back - and if not our best player then certainly most dependable player - Tim Ream. Nicely in time for right winger Michail Antonio to rip us apart with Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
The problem isn't that we aren't playing well in matches, and it's not that we aren't creating chances - we are doing both. The big concern is that we're getting turned over with ease by poor teams, in the cases of MK Dons and Burton Albion, and lack the quality to stamp our authority on matches.
Something has to change drastically, and very quickly, if we are to avoid yet another season of absolute dross in the Championship. And I don't want to come across as a doom-monger, but at the moment I can't see it happening.