Positives, when your lacklustre, promotion-chasing side loses 1-0 away to a club already relegated, will always prove hard to find.
But Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, believes John Brayford’s display on Tuesday against Yeovil was the only bright spot on an otherwise-disappointing evening down in Somerset.
Brayford again impressed at centre-half in the absence of Terry Kennedy and Jay McEveley, and is now demonstrating the form which persuaded Clough to spend £1.5m to bring him back to Bramall Lane after last season’s impressive loan spell.
“It was an unbelievably disappointing night for us,” Clough said.
“Especially to lose to a mistake in the second half. Overall, the performance was poor, almost to a man; but I’ll take John Brayford out of that because his drive and desire shone, head and shoulders above everyone else.
“We paid a lot of money for John in January and he did take a bit of time to settle down, maybe two or three weeks. But over the last fortnight or so he’s been superb for us, and his determination has really made a difference.”
“We were lethargic at times,” Clough continued.
“And we looked tired, mentally as well as physically, in what was our 58th game this season.
“It felt at times like a pre-season game, especially in the first half, and the onus is on us to drive the game as we’re the ones in the top six, and we’re the ones looking to get promoted.
“But it didn’t happen. It was almost as if we sat back and thought ‘it’ll happen’, but it doesn’t work like that in football.”
United, who remain fifth in the League One standings but are only a point and a place ahead of Chesterfield in sixth, return to action on Saturday when they host Bradford at Bramall Lane.