At 3-0 down, Chris Coleman had the unenviable task of delivering the half-time team talk.
He has delivered the hairdryer treatment on more than one occasion since taking charge and it was never more deserved than now.
In his own words, however, you can only do that so many times. It wears off.
So he took a different approach. In what was described by Lee Cattermole as a 'painfully quiet' dressing room, hurting from a shameful first half showing, Coleman's message was curt and to the point.
'Go on then. Deal with it. Let's see what you've got'. He asked the players to show him something in that second half that he and they could build on, a straw of belief that they could try to cling onto in the weeks ahead.
Pointedly, he sat almost motionless in the dugout throughout the second half. It was up to the players and they delivered.
The 1,600 strong travelling support had stayed and showed stunning loyalty by singing in defiance even in the lowest moments of this remarkable game. Finally, they had something to celebrate as Joel Asoro's cross was deflected into the far corner.
It could have been an immensely damaging day but instead the Black Cats end it pretty much where they started. The comeback shouldn't entirely paper of the cracks, far from it.
Defensively they were a shambles, right from the moment they allowed Aden Flint, the most dangerous defender in the league, to coast onto a free-kick and take two touches before scoring.
They were cut open time and time again, barely landing a challenge of consequence in the opening hour. In 35 games across all competitions this season, they have shipped three goals or more on ten occasions.
For the third time this season, they scored three goals and did not win the game. Those two statistics are utterly wretched and if they do not correct them they will be relegated.
Yet somehow they are still alive and there is still hope.
Coleman was right to say this comeback was about mentality, not tactics, but he will also know that the move to a back four at the break was significant. Sunderland looked far better balanced, Aiden McGeady cutting inside and performing superbly from the left, Asoro hugging the right touchline and creating havoc every time he attacked the byline.
The Sunderland boss has an almighty amount of work to do to get his side performing the basics in defence and getting the combinations right further forward.
Just as they were at kick-off, the Black Cats are in real danger.
Just as Coleman asked at half-time, however, the players have given him, and themselves, something to cling onto.