Last week I suggested that the win at Millwall could be a turning point as long as City built on it, but since then we’ve seen that foundation turn into a pile of rubble as their long-suffering fans continue to suffer a death of a thousand cuts in a season that many now can’t wait to see finished.

It is difficult to credit just how much possession City had over the course of the Sunderland and Huddersfield games with so little in the way of genuine chances to show for it.

At Huddersfield, in particular, they faced a side who were so passive in the first half that City’s centre backs spent more time in the home team’s half than their own, and yet Gabriel Sara’s excellent finish topped off their only clear-cut chance as a series of over-elaborate passing sequences and poorly directed crosses saw move after move fizzle out.

Huddersfield were awful and looked thoroughly deserving of their lowly position yet, simply by upping their work rate and adopting an effective high press after half-time, they then took the game to City, who were hanging on even before Marquinhos received his harsh red card.

The current state of Huddersfield should also be a warning to City. A small provincial club with limited resources that rose to the Premier League under an inspirational manager only to come back to the Championship then fail to get back up with parachute payments and who now find themselves facing the drop to League One.

Sunderland were a significantly stronger outfit than the Terriers and were impressively organised defensively, but again good pressing and high work rate asked questions that City were totally incapable of answering, while, as at the John Smith’s Stadium, the goal that they conceded was terribly soft.

The Pink Un: City's promotion hopes are sliding awayCity's promotion hopes are sliding away (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

It’s easy, and inevitable, to direct criticism at individual players and we all do it, but the fact is that what has happened this season is a collective failure.

There were suggestions that under Dean Smith fitness was an issue, but even under David Wagner’s tougher training regime the same faults are showing up again and again, which suggests that the problem is mental more than physical.

When City came back to the Championship under Daniel Farke they performed poorly in the first half dozen games because they seemed to still see themselves as a Premier League team and hadn’t adapted to the realities of the muck and nettles approach adopted by many Championship teams before they pulled it around.

This season it doesn’t seem that that adaptation has ever fully taken place, and while I accept that this squad lacks the overall quality of Farke’s, the fact that they have been consistently outworked by teams of lesser ability that they have been consistently unable to put away despite dominating possession is a real concern.

The performance against Sunderland was bad enough, but Wednesday’s second half was utterly abject as players slipped, overhit passes and failed to control the ball, and, to be honest, neutral observers might well have believed they were watching two sides fighting relegation, such was the poor quality.

Of course, the optimists will point to an average of two points per game from the last seven, but that has to be set against the quality and standing of the opposition, particularly given that the next five fixtures include visits to a Stoke side in good form and under a fiery manager with a point to prove, Blackburn and Middlesbrough and a home game against Sheffield United.

The spectre of a mid-table finish and all that could mean financially is now staring City in the face and there is very little time left to avoid it.

As ever the fans will be there in their thousands today to offer their undying support, but  the big question is, will the players turn up too?