When Newcastle United visit the Stadium of Light on October 25, what odds that a first win will be on the line as well as the bragging rights?
On current evidence, there won’t be much value at the bookies for that scenario.
One step forwards, two back... and then repeat. It’s the pattern that Sunderland supporters are watching again and again. Those who braved the 16-hour round coach trip to the south coast have seen it all before.
The only cold crumb of comfort is that the other lot up the road are no better. Wear-Tyne derbies in the Championship have to be considered very much a realistic possibility at present.
Yes, it could have been very different at Bournemouth if the bungling linesman had kept his flag down when Jeremain Lens put the ball in the net early in the second half. A goal then would have made the finale fascinating.
And, yes, Sunderland won’t concede goals of the calibre of Matt Ritchie’s ‘worldie’ strike every week. It was a volley worthy of winning goal of the season, let alone three points.
But the bottom line is there is a continued vulnerability about Sunderland which stems from years of being involved in the sticky stuff at the wrong end of the table.
There’s a losing mentality.
A third successive season without a win in the opening six Premier League outings tells the story of why this club are continually fighting fires.
Every team that goes to Bournemouth this season will know the importance of keeping it tight in the opening 20 minutes, to quieten the cup tie atmosphere inside the claustrophobic Dean Court.
Sunderland managed to concede twice in just nine.
Go for the jugular against Sunderland - as Bournemouth do with their high-tempo, one and two touch style - then you’re going to get rewards.
Younes Kaboul, handed the captain’s armband for the day after John O’Shea missed out through illness, never looked comfortable against the impressive Callum Wilson and summed that up with the the Bournemouth striker’s frighteningly easy turn for the opener.
The French international’s second yellow card for a wild swipe at Wilson was ludicrous.
Prior to that, Sunderland’s intent and tempo had been better after Bournemouth took their foot off the gas from their impressive opening 45 minutes.
But there’s no point suddenly beginning to play when the opposition have a two-goal head-start. That’s the sign of a side who have developed a losing habit.