Wolverhampton Wanderers' early season stutters turned into a full-blown stumble last night as they fell flat on their faces again in front of their own fans.

Returning to Molineux for the first time since the embarrassing Carling Cup exit to Morecambe three weeks ago, Mick McCarthy's men were dealt an even worse blow by hard-working Hull City.

McCarthy looked stunned at the final whistle as he tries to weigh up just how his fearless, exciting side of six months ago have turned into such a sorry bunch.

A whopping total of 11 points dropped from Wolves' first six matches has already left them struggling to keep in touch with the early leaders. And, whether or not it is the pressure of over expectation that is doing it, this is certainly not the start expected of a team widely tipped in pre-season as promotion favourites.

The key last night was being outwitted in a private battle of the Thirty-Somethings.

While skipper Gary Breen continues to look worryingly wobbly at the back, Hull had the night's class act on their team in 34-year-old Jay-Jay Okocha, and their matchwinner, during the mere 24 minutes he spent on the pitch, was old warhorse Dean Windass.

Most of Wolves' best moments involved the best of their young blades, Michael Kightly.

It was his left-foot cross which Andy Keogh headed, as he so often does, straight at the keeper. And, although Stephen Ward managed a much better effort with a looping header over Hull keeper Boaz Myhill from his next cross, this one was brilliantly hooked off the line by the Tigers' Brummie skipper Ian Ashbee.

Kightly then put Keogh in the clear with a superbly timed ball only for the Irishman to once again demonstrate he gets a place in this team for his approach play not his finishing as he fired high and wide.

Hull were looking no mugs, though, especially with a man on their team of the calibre of Okocha.

On his first start for the Tigers, the former Bolton Wanderers favourite, lured back to this country by his old Reebok assistant manager, still had a few tricks up his sleeves.

One brilliant run took about the entire Wolves team to stop him. And he also set up Bryan Hughes for the game's first, and best chance, with a marvellously threaded through ball which the Blues old-boy fired straight at Wayne Hennessey.

Okocha was then fit and alert enough to pounce on the rebound with a thunderous volley which his own man Richard Garcia obligingly headed over the bar.

If the first half was frustrating, the second half was not three minutes old when things became much worse.

Neill Collins, not for the first time this season, lost his head in the penalty area at the South Bank End to bring down Richard Garcia.

And Hull's veteran sub Windass, who had only been on the field long enough at the end of the first half to get a booking, earned himself a more favourable entry in the 'match stats' by coolly taking the ball off an indignant Okocha and sending Hennessey the wrong way from the spot.

Barely a quarter of an hour later, having enjoyed just 24 minutes of playing time, the 38-year-old limped off minus one of his hamstrings but his work here was done.

Freddy Eastwood, Wolves' saviour here against Blackpool when they last won back on August 25, nearly rescued his side again when he shimmied to the right to find shooting space before powering in a right-foot thunderbolt which came back off Myhill's left upright.

But Wolves sub Jay Bothroyd shot over from a tight angle under pressure, Eastwood fired an injury-time free kick into the wall then hit the rebound over. And, in the end, it was Hull who came closest to scoring as Hughes twice wasted chances to win by a more comfortable margin.