A demoralising defeat often has you 'soul searching' and over-analysing to the point where every little thing the team did was wrong. Obviously, Sunderland were terrible against Southampton - you can't lose 4-0 at home without doing something very wrong. At the same time though, the Saints were very clinical and you can't win 4-0 away from home without doing something right. I mean, remember how frustrated we all were last weekend when barely anyone praised our play in our own 4-0 away victory?
There's no need to overthink Saturday's loss, because this team was largely made up of players who secured two good results in the previous outings. The system David Moyes employed worked in the games against Crystal Palace and Tottenham, and he would be right to keep the faith with the 3-5-1-1. It still remains the best formation for the players Sunderland currently have available - though whether many of those players are good enough is another debate entirely.
With a weekend off until their next game, the squad need to use this break to remind themselves of their positives.
I know it's hard to believe that right now, but this team does still have something about it. You can argue that what they do have still isn't good enough for this league, but that doesn't really matter. There are six teams who currently aren't good enough for this division but three of them will stay up, all Sunderland need to do is make sure they're the third best of the worst six. Those are hardly lofty ambitions, but that is where we find ourselves.
We've witnessed flashes of quality through the darkness too. It's not unreasonable to suggest that Jermain Defoe will continue to score goals in a poor side - he's been doing as much since he first arrived on Wearside. Let's not forget there's still a relationship emerging between the striker and Adnan Januzaj, so prematurely casting that aside would be hasty.
There still may be kinks to iron out when it comes to the raw talent of Didier Ndong, but given his experience and position, there will be times where more mature players get the better of him. Just like they were able to nullify Adnan Januzaj, Oriol Romeu and Steven Davis used their experience to their advantage against Ndong. However, Darron Gibson is now a game further along in his bid to get up to speed and returns for Lee Cattermole and Jan Kirchhoff are edging closer, so the mop headed midfielders call for reinforcements may be about to be answered.
Even defensively, the team has coped well lately and two consecutive clean sheets shouldn't be instantly forgotten. It could be argued that had David Moyes kept three centre halves on the field, rather than panic and try to flood the midfield, such a collapse wouldn't have occurred. There was a cohesion and balance to the back line against Spurs and Palace, with Bryan Oviedo's arrival solidifying the left flank and the new full back was one of the few Sunderland players worth the shirt on Saturday. There's no doubting that our other defenders were poor but as long as they make that type of display an anomaly, between now and May, all will be forgiven.
I'm not saying we shouldn't worry and that everything will be fine but we've lost to a good side, with some excellent attacking players who put in outstanding performances. You can pour over tactics and analyse things as much as you like but that's what it ultimately boils down to. It's not acceptable to collapse in the manner we did but it won't be the game that defines our season. The games that define the relegation battle will be trips to Middlesbrough, Hull and Leicester, whilst there are also home games to come against Swansea, Burnley and Bournemouth.
It’s sad but you have to take this defeat in the context of the season. It’s been a campaign full of disasters and this is just one to add to the list. Maybe I’m apathetic but I don’t so the point in getting so worked up over this loss when there’s bigger (or smaller, I suppose) fish to fry in the coming weeks.
Every supporter is well within their rights to be disappointed, just like you would be after any defeat and if you think we're already down, it's hard to argue too strongly against that. We're far from adrift though and by the time the next fixture comes around, the team will hopefully rejuvenated after a break, we'll have some players closer to full fitness and the defeat to Southampton will be nothing but history.
Perhaps this team is destined for the Championship, or maybe most of the performances from November onwards - a period of time in which Sunderland have taken more points than Middlesbrough, Hull, Leicester and Palace and are level with Bournemouth - is more indicative of the clubs survival chances.
Either way, it won’t be our result at home to Southampton which puts the final nail in our coffin.