If Saturday taught Norwich City fans anything it’s that little can be learnt when 5-0 down.

The Canaries only began playing when Plymouth Argyle had baked the cake, covered it in cherries and icing, lit some festive candles and sung a merry rendition of the happy birthday song.

They contrived to concede another even after Adam Idah’s ironic double, leaving captain Kenny McLean lamenting “the worst performance since I’ve been at this club”.

Wagner praised the Irishman for his late consolation, but Norwich fans had travelled 350 miles to the south coast, and rightly felt positive about very little.

But what facilitated that Idah double provides a glimmer of hope on an otherwise gloomy landscape for those supporters.

It was an option previously unknown and rarely considered as City look to navigate the Championship without either of their first choice strikers. 

When asked how he’d combat injuries to Josh Sargent and Ashley Barnes pre-match, however, David Wagner highlighted Gabriel Sara as a potential Polyfilla in the role. He’d already discussed Przemyslaw Placheta's and Marcelino Nunez’s suitability, but the deep-lying Brazilian had not previously been included in the discussion by his head coach.

It was no surprise, then, that Wagner tried him in that position as he plotted a route back to some dignity on a fateful day at Home Park.

Adam Forshaw replaced fellow summer signing Hwang Ui-jo, dropping into midfield and allowing Sara to take up a number 10 position just slightly detached from Idah.

Early in the half he found space to whip round the corner for Idah to poke straight at Conor Hazard. By the 72nd minute he’d played a perfectly-weighted through ball for his team-mate to drive home that first consolation.

There was little for Wagner to cling onto in Devon, but the sight of that goal will have provided great relief on the Norwich bench.

The Pink Un: Sara assisted Adam Idah's first goal at Home Park.Sara assisted Adam Idah's first goal at Home Park. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

The striking situation is arguably the greatest problem facing City’s coaching staff at present, and finding its solution could be the difference between the Norfolk club remaining part of the promotion conversation and falling away before Sargent’s return.

In the current system it’s clear what Sara’s strengths are in that advanced role. His physical profile is what attracted Stuart Webber to his signing, and his technical ability has never been in doubt.

But the 24-year-old has struggled in midfield in recent games. Sara’s season got off to an unrivalled start as he won the Championship’s player of the month award, but inconsistency has set in as it has team-wide.

While poor defensive displays take the negative headlines, his loose work in possession and inexplicable absence from attacks has meant one less star man in a side that’s heading quickly down hill.

The Pink Un: Sara fights off a Plymouth defender.Sara fights off a Plymouth defender. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

The same can be said of Jonathan Rowe and Christian Fassnacht, even Jack Stacey after his lacklustre outing against Steven Schumacher’s men. Sara doesn’t shoulder the blame alone.

But this change may come at the right time for a man struggling to get the best from his considerable talent at Championship level, and the early signs suggest it could.

But withdrawing Sara from a midfield that defined Norwich at the best has its own clear pitfalls. Kenny McLean has shone alongside him, and Forshaw possesses different strengths to the South American.

Not only does Wagner have to weigh up whether a   31-year-old, as highly as he’s rated, can do the same job as Sara, he must consider whether he’s robbing Peter to pay Paul by moving his number 17 forward.

The absence of strong alternatives may force his hand, with Hwang disappointing and Nunez another on the growing injury list.

In any case, something has to change after Saturday’s humiliation. Perhaps these findings were the positive to come out of such a miserable occasion.