WBA 0 - 0 Southampton
There are many in this frustrated corner of the Black Country who never tire of telling you just how high West Bromwich Albion would be in the Premiership table if matches lasted only 85 minutes.
It's an understandable, if totally meaningless, response to the unhealthy quota of points squandered by Albion's unhappy habit of leaking late goals.
If the Baggies are destined to return to the Championship in May, however, there is another unimpressive statistic that will surely prove even more meaningful.
In six games against the teams down there around them, Albion have picked up only four of a possible 18 points on offer.
It is Albion's inability to beat their rivals in the top flight's bottom four which will send them down. And this latest failure, apart from the 3-0 surrender at Selhurst Park that cost Gary Megson his job last October, was arguably the most depressing.
At least Albion could claim to have deserved more when they drew 2-2 at Southampton, were held by the same scoreline at home by Palace last month and lost 3-2 at Norwich. All points dropped by late goals, of course, but not this time. Apart from one cracking Kieran Richardson shot against the bar, Albion had no claims to have deserved anything.
On a freezing night, too many players froze and Albion were lucky to get even the one point they did get, spared only by sloppy Saints finishing.
"Maybe the occasion got to a few of my players," Albion manager Bryan Robson said. "We didn't perform anywhere near as well as we have been and the only thing you can put your finger on as to why that was is nerves.
"It was an end-to-end game which was always going to be decided by which team took their chances. But, while we shaded the first half, in the end we were a bit fortunate to get even a point."
With another ill-timed 11-day break before they play Birmingham City on March 6, Robson is pinning hopes on a five-day bonding trip overseas, on the premise that a sharp exit from the frozen wastes of West Bromwich and a touch of Mediterranean sunshine will restore morale.
"It'll be good to have a change of environment, get a bit of sun on our backs and for all the new players to get to know each other," Robson said. "There's still a long way to go and I'm sure that anxiety will not show like it did tonight when we're playing teams who are not down at the bottom."
Apart from the jitters setting in, what also knocked Albion out of their stride was that Harry Redknapp's Southampton were certainly not there to be the fall guys. With the pace and trickery of on-loan Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Henri Camara soon causing problems, they were soon trading punches.
Albion had the first real chance when Rory Delap brought down the recalled Rob Earnshaw, only for Zoltan Gera's free-kick and Kevin Campbell's follow-up effort to be charged down bBut the visitors were soon proving to be a big threat on the break.
Former Aston Villa striker Peter Crouch's header was cleared only by a combination of Russell Hoult's right upright and Paul Robinson, Camara was only just off target with a lob and David Prutton was almost in after a mix-up between Robinson and Hoult, who also kept out Camara's unmarked header.
Yet it was Albion who went closest to scoring in the first half. Richardson had just seen one shot blocked after a sweeping, well-supported attack in which Albion could be accused of trying to walk the ball in. But, having been denied from ten yards, when the Manchester United youngster tried his luck from two-and-a-half times that range, Richardson saw a stunning, swerving left-foot special cannon off the angle of post and bar.
Albion again threatened at the start of the second half when Earnshaw - scorer of his first two goals for the Baggies in that 2-2 draw at St Mary's in October - curled one two yards wide. But, despite considerable quantities of sweat and toil, the home side were never to threaten again.
By way of contrast, Southampton did, three times going so close to the winner that really would have broken Baggies' hearts. Yet after doing all the hard work, Camara conjured a finish comparable, not with his recent tally of four in twoanda-half games, but last season's early days at Wolves, blazing hopelessly over.
Prutton's howler of a miss, after Olivier Bernard had done well to pick out his run with a superb, hanging cross, was worse.
Hoult then had to be alert to keep out Jamie Redknapp's deflected free kick but such was Albion's overall lack of attacking second-half threat the home fans were streaming away long before the end.
When the PA announcer chose to close the evening by playing the theme from The Great Escape at the final whistle, this clearly predetermined and ill-advised choice of musical backdrop had a very hollow ring to it.