The key lessons Phil Parkinson will have learned from Sunderland's defeat at Shrewsbury Town
Sunderland's poor form away from Wearside continues, the Black Cats suffering their fourth defeat of the campaign with just 14 games played.
Phil Parkinson, just three games into his Sunderland reign, remains convinced the squad has what it takes to win promotion this season.
But with more than a quarter of the campaign already gone, it's time for the players to start proving it.
Here's what we learned from the 1-0 defeat to Shrewsbury Town.
Sunderland proving to be consistently inconsistent:
Parkinson has been in charge three games; won one, lost two.
All three games have proved to be very different performances with Sunderland desperately poor at Wycombe Wanderers, barely creating any chances and fully deserving to be on the end of a defeat.
Fast forward three days and the Black Cats were utterly rampant at home to Tranmere Rovers.
As convincing a 5-0 win as you can imagine, and it could have been more.
To Shrewsbury Town then. Another away game. Another defeat.
Yet Sunderland weren't poor at the New Meadow, far from it, they dominated the possession and carved out more openings, hitting the woodwork three times.
But their ruthless and clinical side displayed so impressively against Tranmere was missing.
Sunderland's inconsistency is harming promotion ambitions.
Parkinson is convinced SAFC can thrive
Parkinson is adamant Sunderland have what it takes to string together the run of wins needed at some stage to climb the table and secure their place in the promotion places.
Do they though?
The evidence so far suggests this could be a long old season for this squad, we are 14 games in and already this side has lost four games, almost a third of matches played.
Sunderland drew far too many games last season and that's what cost them promotion and if they're not careful it will be defeats that scupper ambitions this time round.
Post-match, a deeply frustrated Parkinson said: "Without doubt if we keep playing like that we will win a lot of games at this level.
“The last two games we have created chances we have looked threatening, keep playing like that we will win a lot of games, I’m sure.”
Proof will be in the pudding but it's down to the players to deliver.
Positives to take.
There were positives to take from the performance despite the disappointing result.
Jordan Willis continues to excel.
What a player he is proving to be.
Signed on a free this summer, Willis anticipates and reads the game superbly.
His pace helped Sunderland deal with a pacy Shrewsbury counter-attack on more than one occasion.
Willis is proving to be one of the signings of the summer, with Joel Lynch alongside him, though the pair will be angered to let another clean sheet slip through their fingers.
Denver Hume impressed, he was a constant menace down the left-hand side, always looking for the ball in dangerous areas and looking to get at former Sunderland full-back Donald Love, who left Wearside this summer.
His final ball needed to be better on occasion but the intention was there and he had more of an impact than Aiden McGeady.
Do Sunderland play better with McGeady in or out the side?
It's an interesting question and a spotlight has been shone on that particular issue after McGeady was forced to sit out the 5-0 thrashing of Tranmere Rovers through suspension.
McGeady was the star outfield performer last season, winning crucial points and we all know he can win games in the blink of an eye with his skill, technique and ability to score stunning goals from distance.
But the team operates differently when he is in it, the pace often slowed down as he looks to take his man on.
Against Tranmere, Sunderland were far more fluid and the intensity levels didn't drop throughout.
With Lynden Gooch out injured for a couple of weeks anyway, it is a moot point.
But plenty for Parkinson to ponder, though, when all of his attacking options are available as to how he best gets Sunderland going this season.
Duncan Watmore reaches another milestone
The forward started his fourth consecutive game for Sunderland; the EFL Trophy win over Grimsby Town followed by a hat-trick of League One starts; Wycombe, Tranmere and Shrewsbury.
Watmore hasn't made three starts in a week for three years given the serious injuries he has had to overcome.
Watmore's pace is a key weapon and ability to turn the defence towards their own goal quickly.
He wasn't as effective against the Shrews but it will have done him the world of good to get another hour in the tank and the psychological battle of starting three games in a week cannot be underestimated.
Sunderland will continue to manage him carefully but his return has been a big plus from Parkinson's first week.
Oxford a chance for fringe players to impress.
Sunderland are on the road again when they travel to Oxford on Tuesday in the Carabao Cup.
Parkinson is expected to make widespread changes for the game, another chance for him to see those players yet to feature from the start.
A chance for some to lay down a marker ahead of the visit of Southend United to the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.