ON the face of it, a point gained away from home is almost always thought of as a good one and certainly not something to be sniffed at.
However, as the fixtures continue pass us by and as the draws gradually mount up, the positivity surrounding them inevitably begins to wane.
At the King Power Stadium on Saturday, Sunderland met a Leicester City side not only struggling for goals but results too.
To come away with a 0-0 draw was a disappointment, though by no means a cause for concern.
Poyet’s men did at least control the vast majority of the game, creating chances – good ones at that – which they were unfortunately unable to convert.
If there is an undercurrent of worry among us supporters, then it’s surely related to our inconsistency to find the back of the net. From three clinically finished chances at Palace, to a superbly struck free-kick against Everton to a blank at Leicester; in many ways, this three-game run is a microcosm of the better part of our season.
At least it didn’t contain a defeat, but, with better finishing, it could also have resulted in a further two points at least.
Perhaps most irritatingly, it always felt like we were a goal away from winning the game and it should have arrived in the run up to half-time. It didn’t and Leicester, for all of their hard work, rarely looked like fashioning anything of real substance for themselves.
From our point of view, a clean sheet was built on a paradoxically solid yet error-strewn defensive performance. We kept a clean sheet, worked hard as a unit, had plenty of the ball, but once again individual errors came exceptionally close to turning a disappointing draw into an infuriating and underserved defeat.
Once again, the increasingly shaky Wes Brown was at the heart of the near implosion.
For a man of his experience, you’d hope he’d have learned from his recent mistakes. Against Everton, it looked like he’d put an elongated blip behind him, but he has a worrying tendency to play with a casualness befitting a man with legs belonging to someone 10 years younger than him.
He simply cannot afford to play this fast and loose with the ball when he does not have the pace to make up for his sloppy errors.
On the plus side, we did keep a clean sheet while also fashioning a series of good opportunities.
Although Liam Bridcutt can count himself unlucky to have been omitted in favour of the returning Lee Cattermole, the midfield three continued to be effective and, for the most part, as fluid as it had been against Everton. Jordi Gomez has grown in stature and risen to prominence of late and he proved to be instrumental in our best spells as an attacking force at Leicester.
There were also promising signs of a growing partnership between Connor Wickham and the superb Steven Fletcher, while Adam Johnson carved open the Leicester defence several times, displaying his full and varied range of passing in the process.
Unfortunately, none of the recipients were able to beat an impressive Kasper Schmeichel.
In some respects, this performance and result is a platform to build on, but, having said that, several times this season already, you do begin to wonder when the foundations can be put to bed and the building finally constructed.
Perhaps the return of Ricky Alvarez and Emanuele Giacherini will prove to be the missing architects who can transform these frustrating draws into solid victories.
* The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction from Gus Poyet. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes.