Any illusions in the Norwich City striking group that all they had to do was score goals has been swiftly dispelled by David Wagner’s first three games at the helm.

The Canaries have scored eight goals, had 67 shots, won two games and earned six points on the road since the German’s arrival, and yet none of their strikers have scored as many goals as midfielder Kieran Dowell.

While the Dean Smith era meant reliance on Teemu Pukki, Josh Sargent and Adam Idah to produce moments of quality for themselves as isolated attackers, Wagner’s system dictates that full-backs contribute offensively almost as much as those leading lights. They’re no longer there to simply finish, but to act as the decks on the swashbuckling ship their new skipper.

Without the hard work of Pukki to run Coventry defenders into the ground at the CBS Arena, Dowell wouldn’t have so casually stepped away from them before rifling underneath Ben Wilson for 4-2. Had Sargent’s perfectly weighted through ball not found a selfless strike partner at Deepdale, the number 10 wouldn’t have tapped home for a 3-0 lead against Preston North End.

Even Onel Hernandez’s second in Warwickshire came after a clever flick from Sargent that opened the left side of the pitch up, but it’s Dowell who will claim the assist after he slid the pass into the Cuban.

That won’t bother the striking pair too much, however. What works in Wagner’s favour is that he now has an attacking department full of players willing to do the sacrificial work that helps the team in a broader sense.

Pukki’s work ethic and introverted nature is legend in these parts, with his understated personality off the pitch representative of his playing style on it. Sargent’s reputation is similar, and borne out in his continuous selection throughout a campaign in which he scored just two league goals.

Neither Dean Smith nor Daniel Farke remain at Carrow Road after that ill-fated 2021-22 season, but their universal trust in the American speaks volumes as to what he offers.

What the requirement placed on City’s strikers represents is a return to system over self, to team production over individual quality.

Too often where Smith’s iteration confused as a collective, with no real plan or objective as to how they would break down opposition defences. The sacrifices made by Sargent and Pukki – the regular battling for aerials by the former or the off-ball movement from the latter – represent a side that’s best players are used in the quest for three points, as opposed to relied upon for their own ideas.

The Pink Un: Canaries forward Josh Sargent worked tirelessly against Coventry City on Saturday.Canaries forward Josh Sargent worked tirelessly against Coventry City on Saturday. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Limited)

Wagner admitted following that Coventry win that he had intelligent players, but there was never a suggestion of the autonomy his predecessor allowed. Instead, this is another similarity to the Farke era, where any individuals failing to submit to the requirements of the group were ruthlessly left behind.

That could have been taken poorly by a squad now used to afternoons in and generous rest schedules, but all the noises coming from Colney suggest that they’ve taken to Wagner’s one-for-all philosophy impeccably.

That can only be good news for fans; systematic teams are more fun to watch and more reliably successful. What’s especially exciting for them, however, is that they’re part of the team working on success.

Wagner’s appointment signalled not only strikers working for midfielders and midfielders working for defenders, but the reminder that all, in the end, were working for the Norwich City faithful.

Of course, Pukki continues to score goals nonetheless, and Saturday’s blank in a sea of goals will have frustrated him, but the work he gets through never ceases in any circumstance. His assist for Sargent’s 18th-minute strike was evidence for that and, given the selflessness of his strike partner, he can expect the same in return before long.