We chalked up a point at home, Simon Grayson didn’t swagger away from Wearside having put one over on his former employers, and there were elements of our performance against Blackpool on Saturday that were moderately encouraging.
After a week during which Aiden McGeady found himself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, and the ‘Sack Phil Parkinson’ movement continued to gain traction - at least we didn’t finish with what would’ve been another soul-destroying defeat.
There. Those are the major positives that I was able to glean from the weekend’s game. To be generous, I could also include the performance of Charlie Wyke, who was all hustle and bustle, and dragged us back into the game with a neatly-taken close-range volley.
Were you to stretch it out even further, you could also laud our resilience and determination to cling on for the draw following George Dobson’s dubious red card. Fighting spirit from this Sunderland team has been in short supply in recent weeks, so it was a blessed relief not to have to watch us fold like an origami swan after the setback of conceding early.
However, in the grand scheme of things, this was yet another achingly mediocre result that will do precious little to illuminate what is without doubt a very dark winter for Sunderland fans. The fact that we are scratching around for any positives we can find tells its own story.
Progress at this club is currently being measured in minuscule proportions, rather than significant steps forward. A draw at home against Blackpool? Yep, we’ll take that. Take the point and use it as a springboard. The problem is, we’ve been in this position too many times this season, and the springboard simply hasn’t provided the required bounce.
Will this be different? Time will tell.
In terms of individual performances, there was little to cheer.
When the usually reliable and effervescent Luke O’Nien has a thoroughly forgettable game, you know that things were flat. Defensively, Laurens De Bock did little to improve his standing, and before taking a premature walk down the tunnel, Dobson hadn’t exactly set the world alight in the middle of the park.
In terms of on-field personnel and optimum formations, the picture is still extremely blurred, including in attack where Duncan Watmore turned in yet another underwhelming performance. Parkinson loves a target man, many have said, and to that end maybe Wyke will become his go-to weapon upfront - although whether he can actually do the business on a regular basis is much less clear.
And, I’d love to see us make a bid for Armand Gnanduillet in January because he certainly seems to fit the profile of the kind of striker we so desperately need right now.
Parkinson’s decision to swerve his post-match media duties, leaving them instead to assistant Steve Parkin, was for me a dereliction of duty, and another worrying sign that this job is simply too arduous and too much of a challenge for him.
Whether he likes it or not being under scrutiny is part of the deal as Sunderland manager, and given our current league position and the multitude of issues enveloping the club - both on-field and off - it isn’t unreasonable to expect the manager to carry his share of the load.
Onward we now plod towards a Boxing Day game versus Bolton, against whom the 1-1 draw in September proved to be one of the final nails in the Jack Ross coffin.
Let us hope that we can begin the post-Christmas period with a home victory and drag ourselves closer to the playoff places which, at this point, looks like our most realistic target. The scale of progress simply must be greater if this season is to be salvaged.