Aston Villa 0 Wigan Athletic 2
There was no fear of bird flu in the press room at Villa Park just before the kick off on Saturday. The chicken was flowing freely and even Gavin McCann, the Aston Villa midfield player, was keen to get his share.
He was smiling, as he usually does, but Villa still had hope at this point.
Two hours later, after the 2-0 defeat to Wigan Athletic, McCann looked like the blood had been sucked from his face. He was not the only Villa player to appear forlorn, for this was a miserable afternoon.
One might suggest a correlation between McCann's absence from the Villa team and the club's lowly position in the Premiership table. But at least McCann was there to be seen. Milan Baros is more difficult to track down.
Villa are short of their best players and it is starting to show.
It is hard to comprehend it but when David O'Leary began in his career as a freshfaced defender with Arsenal in the mid-1970s, Wigan were sitting uncomfortably in the Northern Premier League.
O'Leary can still run a bit - as he proved at St Andrew's last week - but is no longer fresh-faced. Managing Villa tends to damage the complexion. Wigan, meanwhile, are the fourth-best team in England.
It is unlikely that Wigan will remain there, or that O'Leary will be in a hurry to test his sprinting skills in public again, but Aston Villa learnt over the weekend that momentum is everything in the Premiership.
Wigan have it, Villa do not. That is why Wigan won this match 2-0 when Villa, dominant in patches, and certainly better than the scoreline suggests, created the greater chances.
Two freak goals - one a classic by Alan Mahon later on, the other an own goal by Aaron Hughes in the first half - separated the teams and aroused the inevitable jeers from the Villa supporters at the final whistle.
But how different it would have been had Kevin Phillips, lively and enthusiastic, scored when clear on goal early in the match or with a header early in the second half.
"We haven't got momentum going," O'Leary said. "We played well against Tottenham a few weeks back and then went into reverse again.
"We had a good win last week at Birmingham and then lose at home to Wigan. We have to gather up the three points if we want to move ahead and we haven't done that this season. We are expecting better in terms of putting the ball in the net and we are expecting to defend better.
"But you have to get a settled side and get all your best players playing and we haven't been able to do that. We have too many important players missing. We are expecting better all over the pitch."
Whatever O'Leary says - and he does have a point - Villa cannot hide just behind their injury problems. Man for man, they still had enough quality to deal with Wigan.
The problems go deeper. There seems to be a lack of belief within the Villa team, exemplified, it seems, by Olof Mellberg's forlorn expression at the end. If he is concerned, so everybody at Villa Park should be.
The victory against Birmingham the previous weekend should have been the catalyst for Villa to take control of their own destiny, but they play with little confidence; like a collection of individuals in search of a team.
Wigan are the opposite. They are a team in every sense of the word. Up front, in Henri Camara and Jason Roberts, they possessed two strikers who gave Villa problems throughout.
Roberts is better with Wigan than he ever was for West Bromwich Albion, while Camara at least seems to have dispensed with the attitude problem that overshadowed his time with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
But while Camara and Roberts impressed, it was Kevin Phillips of Villa who had the best chances.
When clear on goal, he struck a first-time shot that brought a save from John Filan. Phillips was going for the lob, lost his footing in the turf, and lamented what was a wasted opportunity. "We only have ourselves to blame," Phillips said.
But Phillips was quick to point out that Hughes, Villa's excellent right back, was unfortunate to score an own goal. The Northern Ireland captain could only deflect a dangerous cross from Camara into his own goal. In any event, Roberts was behind Hughes, waiting to pounce.
If that was a surprise, the second goal, in the 81st minute, shocked even Wigan. Mahon, the former Blackburn Rovers winger, broke clear on the left and struck angled, first-time shot from 20 yards that flew past Thomas Sorensen.
"Good luck to Wigan and Paul Jewell [Wigan manager] but we should have been well in command at half-time," O'Leary said. "The game should have been over. In the second half we had all the play but did not create much and the second goal on the break was a killer."
In the final few minutes, with Villa Park emptying, the Wigan players kept possession with arrogant ease, while their supporters cheered each pass as if they were watching a bull fight.
Wigan were not as good as the scoreline suggests, Villa not as bad, but the jeers at the end and the sight of the Premiership table are all that O'Leary needed to witness.