Another fairly shambolic Bolton Wanderers performance last night saw us squeeze a point where we deserved none. Bristol Rovers came, saw and conquered us with an all-too-evident ease.
So, without further ado, here are my talking points:
Did We Underestimate Them?
I think we may well have. I, like you, no doubt, came into the game thinking "we are Bolton, we used to be good - who the F are these lot"?
You would have thought that we'd have learned our lesson from Oxford United at home, Swindon Town at home and various other performances from this most up-and-down of seasons.
We started the game with our traditional semi-negative formation of four at the back with two holding midfielders - in Derik Osede and Jay Spearing - guarding the centre halves. For me this is an away match formation. It (in theory) provides the defence with an extra level of security.
It is not conducive to winning games at home. It meant that the attacking players - namely Josh Vela, James Henry, Philip Morris and Chris Long - were often up against six Bristolian defenders which left them stifled and bereft of support.
Bristol, to give them all the credit they deserve, were excellent. Their midfield was one of the most impressive that we have seen at the Reebok all season, and their defence was as well-marshalled as ours was before Christmas. They deserved the win.
A Vision of a Gary Madine-less Future
What a glorious 10 minutes it was. We had Spearing and Derik finding a willing runner in Chris Long down the various channels - he would hold the ball, bring people into play and shoot on goal when he had the chance.
More or less everything that Gary Madine doesn't do.
It only lasted 10 minutes, but it gave us a vision of how we might play - perhaps under a different manager - but it was delightful regardless.
A Vision of a Gary Madine-less Present
Sigh. We are stuck with him aren't we?
How has it come to the point that the worst striker we have had in recent memory is also key to the way we play?
I pin the blame not on Madine - he can't help being rubbish - but on Phil Parkinson. The manager needs to come up with a Plan B and quickly.
Plan A is to belt the ball to Madine's head and see what he can do.
It seems that our current Plans B through to D are to hit the ball to the head of (latterly) Jamie Proctor, Chris Long and Adam Le Fondre.
So whenever Madine's suspension ends, Parkinson has to swallow his pride and chuck him back into the team, even if watching him makes me want to scratch out my eyes.
The internet clamoured for Ben Alnwick to be dropped - and was - deservedly so, after the Bradford City debacle.
However, the return of Mark Howard has hardly made us more solid. He gets a pass for the Sheffield United game, but last night he was fairly shocking.
His pre-injury flappy handling was back with relish, not to mention the atrocious error on his touchline that almost cost us an equaliser in the first half.
I agreed with Alnwick's dropping, and I agree with Howard being dropped for Saturday.
Another one to add to the list.
It seems like I've been writing about referees in this column for years, but last night was a new benchmark on the shit totem of crap referees.
Mr Simpson (d’oh) was as inconsistent a referee as we've had in this season of atrocious officials. Fouls which could never be described as fouls were given, and then ignored when repeated - drop balls were handed out willy-nilly - and a flagrant disregard for where a throw-in should be taken were but a few of his crimes.
The second booking and subsequent sending off of Long for dissent was fine by me, however his first yellow card was a complete joke.
He failed to award Bristol Rovers the clearest penalty you'll ever see - for handball - early in the first half, and went to award random free-kicks alongside guessed throw-in decisions and goal kicks which should've been corners, and vice versa. It was farcical.
Also presumably a qualified doctor, he would insist on stopping play when a Bristolian player was down, but when the shoe was on the other foot he found a willingness to play on that, I confess, had my piss boiling at a world-class level.
I hope we never have this dickhead darken our doors ever again.