Sheffield Wednesday 3 Coventry City 2
It may have been the first day of October, but the pantomime season has already arrived at Hillsborough.
The villain of the piece was referee Lee Mason, booed constantly by home fans after awarding Coventry a disputed penalty, while the comedy was provided by Coventry ' s kamikaze defending.
Chris Brunt proved to be the hero for Sheffield Wednesday as he gave a man-of-the-match performance and scored two goals.
The curtain-call came from Micky Adams who only needed one word to describe this Coventry performance from his view in the stalls - rubbish.
However, it is certain that he was far more robust with his vocabulary in berating his team in the dressing room after a nightmare performance at Hillsborough saw them slip to a depressing defeat.
Not even the bonus of a suspect penalty award - duly converted by Gary McSheffrey - or a first goal of the season for Andy Morrell could mask an abject performance.
After a scintillating midweek win over Watford, it looked as though the tide had finally turned for Coventry and a trip to a bottom-ofthetable Wednesday side low on confidence was an ideal opportunity to ignite their campaign.
Yet they fluffed their lines thanks to some dreadful defending, lacklustre midfield play, and a flagrant disregard for basic football disciplines.
Adams has constantly stressed to his team that working hard isn't a bonus, but they failed to heed his warnings and allowed an average Wednesday team, who looked beatable, to flourish and they profited as Coventry handed out early Christmas gifts.
Chris Brunt had already provided a caveat with his early shot that had Stephen Bywater scrambling across his line, but they failed to heed the warning and Brunt was the main contributor to their downfall.
His corner was met powerfully by an unmarked Graham Coughlan from six yards out and he planted an unstoppable header past the helpless Bywater.
The absence of experienced campaigners Rob Page and Richard Shaw at the heart of their defence has left Coventry extremely vulnerable to sustained pressure whilst the absence of Dele Adebola had rendered them impotent for 30 minutes.
McSheffrey switched to a more central role and restored parity following the award of a contentious penalty.
Michael Doyle's threaded pass found McSheffrey and the young striker went down under the challenge of David Lucas, who appeared to divert the ball with both hands.
Chaos reigned for the best part of two minutes as Wednesday's player stood over the penalty spot and harangued the beleaguered Mr Mason, amid a chorus of jeers and whistles.
McSheffrey duly converted, then saw referee Mason inadvertently block a Glen Whelan shot to leave home fans chanting "Are you (Neil) Warnock in disguise?"
However, not even Mason cold prevent Brunt striking home a volley from fully 40 yards to restore Wednesday's lead and while it was a goal of Beckham-esque proportions, Adams was raging at the timidity of his team.
"There were three of my players around Brunt when he shot and no one closed him down," he moaned.
"I can only apologise to our fans as that performance was rubbish. I was bitterly disappointed with that performance and I think some of my players heads are still in the clouds.
"There are absolutely no positives to take out of this performance and I don't think we have enough characters in this team. We have a soft underbelly and we let ourselves down. A lot of players have done themselves harm in this game."
Despite Adams' scathing post-match tirade against his team, they clawed themselves level out of the blue after a short corner whipped in by Stephen Hughes was flicked into the top corner by Morrell.
Nevertheless, they still contrived to throw away a scarcely deserved point when a long punt from Graham Lee dropped over Andrew Whing's head and he produced a tackle on Lee Peacock that a scrum-half would have been delighted with.
Brunt delivered the goods once again to leave the alarmbells ringing for Adams. He has ostensibly the same squad of players that finished fifth from bottom last season and the portents aren't good for anything other than another campaign of toil.
They have yet to win on the road and a poor Wednesday team looked better equipped for a relegation battle than Adams' lacklustre troops.
A collective malaise seems to prevent Coventry from collecting successive victories and they are suffering from a severe case of travel sickness whenever they venture outside the Ricoh Arena.
Adams is set for a meeting with temporary chairman Geoffrey Richmond this week, as they set out a blueprint for the season and the case for change is overwhelming.
Their defensive woes and midfield ineptitude would have left punters rolling in the aisles at the Belgrade Theatre had it been in December, but neither Adams nor his frustrated supporters could raise a titter on Saturday.