A balmy evening in Belfast sure feels like a long time ago.
A love affair with something new, where nothing felt impossible and time in an ornate Irish bar felt infinite.
Forty-five days have passed since we embarked on that Crusade and in the space of 45 minutes against Chelsea, it felt like a lifetime.
Maybe the cynics are right and our Europa adventure is incompatible with the Premier League? Poles apart? On yesterday’s evidence they have a point.
We looked jaded and weak in the face of a teak-tough Chelsea side, who looked fleeter in foot and sharper in mind for large parts. (The opening 20mins was a fair contest before the wheels began to fall off). They were just the better side, as we resembled a leggy under-12s side battling uphill against the under-14s.
Befitting of a 2-5 scoreline, our defence looked hopeless, with Vallejo, Saiss and Coady all struggling, the latter in particular must have ached for Willy Boly’s presence. And is our lightweight midfield in need of a Mario Lemina-type player to lighten the load? We were linked once, which maybe tells its own story. Up front, Jota and Jiminez looked to be running on empty.
In short, we looked short.
As our 130th anniversary at Molineux was commemorated on the day, some context must be taken though, however the embryonic Premier League table might be looking.
Once upon a time, an occupational hazard was a training session on the North Bank car park or a boot up the arse from Eddie Clamp. Now it’s a departure gate and journeys with club and country.
Times change, alright. And irrespective of this humbling defeat, we’re in the best place we’ve been in years, able to at least view the video wall history montages with smiles, rather than sadness.
But with the Europa League workload looming large (not to mention Crystal Palace thereafter), it’s fair to say we’re thinly spread right now.
No point regretting it though. More productive to make changes by bringing Doherty and Boly back – and taking each day as it comes.