The concern is that even if, as QPR boss Ian Holloway suggested, Sunderland could find a way of putting back to back wins together, it would likely leave them no higher than 16th in the table.
If it was fair to accept the lowly position ought not to be cause for over-reaction in the opening month or two of the season, then now, with Holloway’s average side eight places and six points ahead, anger is understandable.
Slowly but surely, the best case scenario for Sunderland this campaign is it turning into a lost season, ending in the mid-table graveyard of the Championship.
The worst case scenario remains a possibility after another home afternoon when the odd positive was outweighed by defensive mistakes and an inability to construct a high tempo display across 90 minutes.
Away from Wearside, Sunderland have, their Portman Road disaster side, been competitive and the performance at Preston raised hopes of revival.
This was another day, however, that laid bare the scale of their problems at a Stadium of Light that is becoming increasingly painful to frequent on matchdays.
The mood invariably is at best flat, at worst vicious.
There have been players, teams and managers booed over the years, but ironic cheers for successful passes marked a new level of discontent.
Grayson and his side, not for the first time, were rescued by the outstanding individual quality of Aiden McGeady.
The Ireland star missed a glorious opportunity in the first half when Duncan Watmore drove across the field and released with him with a fine ball through the middle, but he more than made up for that across 90 minutes, a constant threat on both feet.
Aside from his brilliance, the football has been tepid at best and that is not helping to win fans over as results continue to underwhelm.
The 15-minute period at the start of the second half, which led to the ironic cheering, was aimless and lackadaisical, and even in the moments either side of that the tempo was too slow too often, Watmore’s return promising but marked to often by hopeful and poor balls launched over the top for him to try to rescue.
With that in mind, the decision to choose James Vaughan ahead of Jonny Williams, a vibrant presence from the moment he came off the bench, frustrated and summed up where Sunderland are. Promising players, promising cameos but never quite the right XI able to control a game fully.
The Black Cats, to their credit, have not gone under in the last two games and stopped the losing rot, but the growing gap to even the mid-table teams puts manager and team under pressure in the four games before the next international break.
The date with Bolton at the end of this month already has the feeling of a definitive contest. If Sunderland get to the end of that game having still not won at home this year, they will be adrift in the relegation zone.
The fear is that the longer this run goes on, the harder it becomes to turn around.
The Stadium of Light has a melancholic feel these days, quiet and flat even in the run-up to the referee’s first whistle.
The expectation is for failure, sloppy mistakes and one-paced attacking.
While this was for from the worst display of recent times, it was nowhere near enough to lift this once great arena from its slumber.
Time is running out to do so before this campaign is lost.