So maybe David Wagner won’t be the Norwich City saviour we all hoped. 

Wednesday night’s performance at Huddersfield was as laboured, lethargic and lacking in innovation as anything served up under the much-vilified Dean Smith, a grim 1-1 draw that means the current City boss's record now looks virtually identical to his predecessor's after his first 10 Championship games.

Those thrilling, free-flowing and creative displays seen at Preston, Coventry and at home against Hull now seem a long time ago and, despite the resilient 3-2 win at play-off chasing rivals Millwall earlier this month, it's fair to say Wagner's honeymoon period is well and truly over. 

Of course, the former Terriers chief has masterminded some areas of marginal improvement, getting this stuttering squad playing with additional pace and purpose in several of those four big wins. 

But the dismal displays seen in West Yorkshire on Wednesday, and at Bristol City and Wigan last month - three games that felt like virtual carbon copies of each other - unequivocally suggest that the issues at the club run considerably deeper than the mere personnel of the manager. 

Had City conjured up performances like those under Smith, the reaction from the travelling contingent would have reached the grim toxicity levels seen at Luton on Boxing Day where, ironically, the away side actually created significantly more than these three games under Wagner.

The Pink Un: David Wagner applauds the travelling Norwich City fans after the draw at HuddersfieldDavid Wagner applauds the travelling Norwich City fans after the draw at Huddersfield (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

Naturally, supporters are going to afford the new City boss time to get things right, but with the club four points off the play-offs with nine tough-looking fixtures remaining, it's looking increasingly inevitable that another season of Championship football beckons.

Wagner does not have a magic wand and, just like my thoughts on Smith after a similarly turbulent start to the season, the 51-year-old does deserve time to fully implement his intensive training methods to try and turn our fortunes around.

But it does feel like the dial is starting to pivot away from blaming the manager and instead, a growing realisation manifesting itself that perhaps this squad just is not equipped to mount a viable assault on promotion.

My thoughts on Smith were well-documented in this column and, based on the relative lack of overall improvements in results since his departure, it does look as though City's struggles were not all down to his shortcomings as head coach. 

Instead, it's appearing increasingly likely that the ageing, tired and potentially motivation-lacking spine of this team - Grant Hanley, Ben Gibson, Kenny McLean, Max Aarons - are in need of a fundamental reset if City are to transform themselves into genuine promotion challengers. 

That's not to say I'm not a fan of those four players, I am; McLean, who has been exceptional under Wagner, in particular - but merely an acknowledgement that perhaps, and just like what happened under Stuart Webber's stewardship in the summers of 2017 and 2018, a radical overhaul is needed to inject this group with a fresh, possibly more youthful, hunger and determination to haul themselves back out of this gruelling division. 

And that brings us back to Webber himself.

It does now feel as though City are now firmly back to square one, in possession of an ageing, inflated and tired-looking squad that does bear a resemblance to the John Ruddys, Russell Martins and Jonny Howsons Webber inherited back in the summer of 2017.

And this is also a group that firmly lacks both loveability and relatability, short of the heroes Daniel Farke had at his disposal in both 2018/19 and 2020/21.

The bones of a fresher, more youthful and hungrier squad are there in the form of Gabriel Sara – if we hold onto him – Marcelino Nunez, Andrew Omobamidele, Christos Tzolis and - love him or hate him - Adam Idah, who provided a brilliant assist for Sara's ice-cool opener on Wednesday. 

But there is no doubt that considerably more work needs to be done if Wagner, or indeed any other manager, is going to be able to fully instil his principles and catapult this team back into the Premier League. 

This is a season increasingly slipping into Alex Neil - and Alan Irvine - 2016/17 territory, with tenuous top-six hopes slowly being eroded and fans now adapting to the alarming realisation that this squad may just not be fit for purpose.

So Wagner won’t be our short-term saviour, perhaps it wasn’t Smith’s fault after all and, with another season of Championship football looming, it’s now back down to Webber once again to orchestrate another much-needed Carrow Road overhaul.