Bristol City's FA Cup exit comes as no great surprise to anyone
IT says everything about Bristol City's recent performances in knockout competitions that their latest early exit from the FA Cup came as no surprise to those who witnessed it.
Long-suffering City fans have become accustomed to their team under-achieving horribly in such games and there was an air of inevitability surrounding events as they unfolded at Ewood Park.
Dumped out of the Cup at the third round stage in each of the previous five seasons, City seldom resembled a side hell-bent on putting right that particular sorry state of affairs.
Manager Derek McInnes insisted he was taking the FA Cup seriously and, true to his word, named what amounted to his strongest available starting line-up.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
But the players appeared to be reading from a different hymn-sheet and they went down with scarcely a whimper.
Of course, there is no disgrace in losing to opponents who were treading the boards in the Premier League only last year and a City side denuded of many of its big hitters was always going to be up against it in east Lancashire.
But the nature of their exit will have done nothing to lift spirits ahead of next week's return to the bread and butter business of fighting for precious npower Championship points.
Certainly, those City fans who made the long journey north deserved better.
Having endured two seasons of struggle in the league, they could have been excused for believing this FA Cup excursion offered a welcome distraction from the rigours of battling relegation.
Fortunately, they possess a wry sense of humour.
With their team two goals down and fast heading out of the competition, they broke into a chorus of Spandau Ballet's 1980s smash hit 'Gold' containing the pertinent lyrics 'always believing.'
In the circumstances, Monty Python's 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life ' might have been more appropriate!
Behind City's travails this season is a soft centre which has now seen them fail to keep a clean sheet in 26 games.
One suspected the writing was on the wall for the visitors from the moment Danny Murphy unleashed a thunderbolt from the blue after seven minutes.
As so often this season, the Robins were the architects of their own downfall; no-one moved to close down Murphy, while keeper Tom Heaton, having got a hand to the ball, should have done more to keep it out of the net.
Blackburn's second goal, scored by centre-back Grant Hanley 12 minutes after the break, was another gift and similar to many that City have conceded in recent times.
Just as had happened at Millwall a few days earlier, certain individuals failed to do their job when defending a second phase set-piece.
When a corner was only half cleared and Ruben Rochina lofted the ball high into the penalty area, it was too easy for Scott Dann to win the first challenge and create a simple chance for his fellow centre-half.
McInnes is actively seeking defenders in the transfer market and on the evidence of what we have seen so far this term, they cannot arrive quickly enough.
Individual mistakes and lapses in concentration are a recurring theme, one that threatens to cost City their second tier status.
Certainly, Blackburn had a spring in their step and a real purpose to much of their work from the moment Murphy fired them in front.
Called upon to respond to adversity, City lacked the energy, drive and attacking acumen needed to put their opponents under pressure and Ryan Taylor's header at the end of the first half represented their only worthwhile goal-scoring opportunity in an otherwise largely sterile performance.
There were mitigating circumstances, of course. Already without Albert Adomah, Neil Danns and Stephen McManus for a variety of reasons, the manager's hand was further weakened by the injuries that prevented him calling upon Sam Baldock, Richard Foster, Joe Bryan and Marvin Elliott.
Some of those who played were just coming back from long-term injury and City lacked the sharpness and pace required to trouble a Blackburn side that were in control virtually from start to finish.
Angry City fans made their feelings known at the final whistle and it was difficult to argue with them. After all, they had paid good money and travelled hundreds of miles, only to be let down.
Unhappy at the way their club is being run, Blackburn fans stayed away in their droves and the attendance was the lowest for any game at Ewood Park in 21 years.
That hardly helped generate the kind of atmosphere normally associated with the FA Cup and the game smacked of a training ground exercise at times.
If Blackburn managed to rise above the general malaise and set a high tempo at times, City did not. Certainly, they will need to do more when promotion-chasing Leicester come calling next Saturday.