After the deadline day mania there was a touch more optimism on Wearside, slight but definite.
Certainly, all of those signed in January showed some good touches here, flashes of promise and talent to suggest they will be useful additions.
That counts for little, however, when the chronic mental fragility of the squad as a whole continues to bite.
Yet again a bright start gave way to a soft goal conceded, followed shortly after by another.
By the end they looked out of ideas and painfully low on confidence. Drifting towards League One as yet another opponent left Wearside after comfortably picking up three points, never having to reach their top gears.
Chris Coleman has a mountain to climb as those around them continue to rally.
That Sunderland went into half-time with the game all but gone was a depressingly familiar development.
For 25 minutes they had been bright and energetic, the better side creating some promising openings.
Ashley Fletcher was showing real intelligence on his full debut, playing in Joel Asoro with an excellent reverse pass quarter of an hour into the contest. It was a massive opportunity for Asoro but he could only push his shot wide of the far post.
The Stadium of Light was lifted by Fletcher's awareness and creativity, an optimism boosted by the daring play of Ovie Ejaria behind him.
Billy Jones came close to turning a header in at the back post and John O'Shea narrowly missed when he headed Bryan Oviedo's corner goalward.
Martyn Waghorn has rocked the crossbar with a fine free-kick but half an hour in Sunderland had looked a threat.
We have been here before, of course, and yet another calamitous spell took them out of the equation.
Joe Garner looked to be going nowhere when he picked up the ball with his back to goal, but he was allowed to turn and shoot. The ball looked to take a slight deflection and rolled into the far corner well out of Lee Camp's reach.
The response was poor, Ipswich growing into the game and just as they did against Birmingham, the Black Cats gave away a poor goal just before the break.
Callum Connolly ghosted past Lee Cattermole before cutting the ball across goal. Camp couldn't cut it out and Adam Matthews could only turn it into his own net.
Sunderland did regain some composure at the start of the second half but it was set up perfectly for Ipswich, able to sit off and counter when the opportunity presented itself.
Coleman acted quickly to throw on George Honeyman and Kazenga LuaLua. Honeyman should have forced a penalty when a cross was blocked by the arm of Jonas Knudsen.
LuaLua then stung the palms of Bialkowski in the Ipswich goal from range as Sunderland threatened without ever really building up a head of steam.
They should have gone three behind with 15 minutes to go, Martyn Waghorn running clear but just stabbing his effort wide of the post.
That was the last significant action of another wretched afternoon.
Sunderland XI: Camp; Matthews (McGeady, 70), O'Shea, Browning, Oviedo; Cattermole, Robson (Honeyman, 57), Ejaria; Fletcher, Asoro (LuaLua, 56)
Unused Subs: Ruiter, Maja, Gooch, Love
Ipswich Town XI: Bialkowski; Chambers, Spence, Carter-Vickers, Knudsen; Connolly, Ward (Gleeson, 73), Skuse (Hyam, 84), Sears; Waghorn, Garner (Webster, 90)
Unused Subs: Crowe, Iorfa, Celina, Carayol
Bookings: Asoro, 18 Garner, 52