I was holding hands with defeatism prior to Tottenham's visit to Eastlands. Apologetic excuses carefully incepted into my subconscious, preparing myself for what most expected to see play out; a defeat against a side that doesn't lose or draw at home in the league.
I was content with bruising it out, seeing the team fight hard and perhaps claiming a point for their endeavours, although the dreamy side of my hope wished for an out of body experience with Spurs turning up and turning it on.
The bane of my concerns sat with Christian Eriksen, on ice for the foreseeable future. Andre Villas-Boas this time forced to tinker to find the right balance, a balance he might have to stick with as we aim to embrace a cohesive flow to our play (don't laugh, this was still a pre-match musing). You can't expect a team to play together if they are always apart. Stick with your best eleven, it's the only genuine way to gel.
Then I saw the line-up.
Lewis Holtby in. Erik Lamela with his first Premier League start. A far more robust and complimentary midfield combination of Sandro and Paulinho (that didn't work). The biggest shock was that the forgotten man (unless you follow him on Instagram) Emmanuel Adebayor was named on the bench. Lennon also starting.
Away days are far more productive (sigh) for Spurs. There's always more freedom to play, to counter knowing that they won't be facing a parked bus (hindsight klaxon - more like a freight train). There's always more freedom to express as there is no hefty weight of expectation from a nervous home crowd (that excuse is gone).
So, what exactly was the day's narrative set to be?
City bossing it and continuing their 100% home form record?
Dawson with Negredo and Aguero in his back pocket?
Spurs shocking everyone with a win and shifting us up towards 4th spot?
Adebayor off the bench with a glory moment?
City with their monstrous squad depth sending us to the bottom of an ocean of tears?
2 out of 5.
Before kick-off, all my worries had evaporated. I'm so easy to accommodate. The fact Lamela was finally starting a game (Townsend benched) was enough for me to get giddy with excitement. Bravery with selection, or is it only perceived as bravery because its the only choice we have? Bravery, desperation...I didn't want to split hairs.
Excitement, delusion...also not much difference there. Part of me did want to question why I was still not full of uncontrollable confidence going into the game. That defeatism, tapped me on the shoulder to remind me that even an on form Spurs side would have to be at their very best to get something out of the game.
Considering our squad, our players, that change of fortune I'm waiting to see happen isn't in the midst of happening yet.
I was left simply with the hope that we would give it everything for there was nothing to lose. Well, aside from points and pride and not being able to gloat on Monday morning at work.
So, the narrative turned out to be..?
What we all deep down expected it to be.
14 seconds in. 1-0 down. You couldn't make this up.
A gift so early Santa Claus would cry 'theft'.
Hugo Lloris, world class keeper, making a world class error, kicking the ball back out towards a City player after a Kaboul pass back, then saving the initial shot but unable to do anything than watch a brilliant chip fly over him and into the goal. Jesus Christ Tottenham. Alas no, just Navas accepting our goodwill gesture.
A week's worth of perpetration, the pre-match team talk and all the confidence in the world disappears with dread gatecrashing out of thin air, all in a blink of an eye.
Remember the clean sheets? Remember the shrewd defending? Lloris has hardly let any in this season (still only 1-0, let's remember the high point of the game's scoreline) so the irony that he can claim an indirect assist for the City opener had me slapping my face hoping to wake up from the nightmare.
Then in the 4th minute, City's turn for calamitous defending, Lamela unable to turn it in with a touch that was neither a cross or a shot. 6th minute, Lloris making a smart save just to remind us the narrative of the day was setting itself up to be 'heart in mouth'.
The actual narrative turned out to be 'crucified without resurrection'.
The opening ten minutes, that goal aside, we looked alright, half decent. Both sides showing sings of fragility at the back, both looking to get forward. Sandro with a super challenge on Nasri. There was a couple of offsides against us up the other end as we pushed forward. Lennon lively. It didn't look lost at this point.
The following ten minutes, the ball was mostly in our possession. City, defending deep, but still dangerous when breaking and still looking more likely to score (when comparing them to our creative guile, or lack of).
Thirty minutes gone, ignoring the goal, Spurs were competing and far more comfortable. 60% of the game at our feet, but statistics only tell you half of the story. The rest of the story is told by a mocking footballing God, spitting laughter in our face.
Then Spurs do the Spursy thing and go 2-0 down. It was like they were simply waiting for us to invite them back for more. Lloris with another poor clearance, City break, Negredo's shot hits Kaboul then Sandro for the OG. Probably didn't think his day would get any worse after puking on the field. It did. Arguably, at one point I couldn't tell the difference between the puddle Sandro left and our players.
The day didn't get worse. It got brutal.
3-0 after 40 minutes. For all the Spurs possession in the world, City not even trying hard to beat us.
Half-time our best patch in the game as we didn't conceded for 15 minutes.
Second half starts with Adebayor on. Not long after it's 4-0 down. Not that he was responsible. Life not so good.
I'm numb at this point. No reason to colour comment on what happened in the remainder of the game. City played us like a three year old plays with a rag doll.
Although after the fifth, we weathered the storm, right? Right?
City made it six in injury time just to truly wipe my universe from existence in the most dismissive of big bangs.
The game then ended but it really ended after the 14th second came to pass. Everything that happened after that was an encore.
For all the pre-match fight talk, this was a powderpuff collapse. Like a boxer with his guard down pointing at his chin and begging his opponent to come at him whilst dancing around with no strategy in mind.
We reacted positively after the 1-0. Knew it was gone at 2-0 but I only felt truly scared when the third went in.
By reacted positively (to clarify a distinction between what I saw and what AVB cited) I mean we didn't completely and utterly capitulate. We kept the ball (all 64% of it) but did very little with it. Reacting positively, truly positively would have been to score a goal and place them under extreme pressure.
What we got instead was a mental shut down. Like I said, City ignited when they felt they could end a move with a goal. They did that six times with ruthless and effortless composure.
There was no structure, no backbone. Our players responsibilities against one of the toughest midfield's in the country lacked focus and discipline. We failed tactically here more than anywhere. No pressing, no bullying. Andre failed. They all did.
Plenty of easy pickings I'm sure for many when seeking to scapegoat, but how can you legislate for pathetic defending not once, but twice to more or less kill the game dead. No chalkboard or Powerpoint presentation is going to help especially if you go and concede again before half time and more or less immediately after the re-start for the second forty-five. Whatever happens in between is almost inconsequential. You'd ask for more, expect more from the players - but there was nothing. They had nothing to give.
Perhaps, probably even without the Lloris mistake in the opening seconds of the game we'd have faltered regardless with City counter-punching time and time again.
The concern is that there was no strength in steadying the ship. No leadership on and off the pitch. No collective unity of spirit. Just a white flag. Don't worry about a plan B, plan A was misguided and soft.
First the Ashes and now this.
When I reclaim my senses, I'll return with more afterthought.
If I reclaim my senses.
All I have at the moment is humiliation, embarrassment. I'm sat here ashamed with the depths of hell biting at my ankles. I'm not alone. I have all of you weeping alongside me accompanied by those that wore our shirt out on the field at Eastlands and those that refused to stop singing in the stands.
The question, once the pain subsides, will be if this is the result that forces a reaction worthy of resurgence and redemption or if it's simply the start of the dismantlement of our own personal tower of Babel?
The players, the coach...they owe us an answer.
In most ways this defeat, this performance encapsulated all the bad things we knew existed and amplified them tenfold. We need to know if there's a polar opposite. I need to know.
I just need.