"DISILLUSIONING" would be an apt term to describe Saturday's laboured efforts from the team at Hull.
Now I'm certainly not going to overreact to the defeat and hint at some underlying issue that will plague the club for the rest of the season. Nevertheless, the complacency and ignorance of the basic facets of the game that have underpinned our recent success was vexing.
However, on the plus side, this defeat should serve as a wake-up call to the players that we are still very much a work in progress – and also enabled Martin Kelly to finally exhibit his prowess at centre-back.
Beginning with the negatives, there seemed an uncharacteristically laissez-faire attitude from the team on Saturday. Apparently taking no inspiration from their delightfully enriching surroundings in the 2017 European City of Culture, Palace acquitted themselves in a manner far removed from their performance at Goodison Park two weeks ago.
The compact and resolute unit against which Everton huffed and puffed was replaced by a disjointed shape with a soft underbelly on Humberside. Time and again the defence had dropped slightly too deep while the midfield had advanced a tad too far upfield. Both subtle and inconspicuous errors but these coalesced to create a pocket of space for Hull to advance into.
The midfield pushing up is perfectly acceptable provided that they actively press the opposition. However, while Joe Ledley remained his usual combative self, James McArthur was an exhibition in going through the motions while Mile Jedinak was little more than apathetic.
In the case of McArthur, having watched him a number of times turning out for Scotland and now for Palace, his performances seem far too ragged for comfort. Chasing shadows with the occasional infusion of class in possession, he is frustrating to watch. It is to be hoped that Marouane Chamakh can return to the midfield as soon as possible as he brings more class than McArthur while also providing more of a physical presence.
Fraizer Campbell – inferior technically to Dwight Gayle and in the team presumably for his superior work rate – should be looking over his shoulder now too after a leggy performance in which he seemed far too preoccupied with complaining rather than harrying.
That being said, it was just one performance and should spur the team into life once again; demonstrating to them the necessity to stick to the basics and principles that have served us so well thus far.
The potential absence of Scott Dann has called into question our squad depth in the centre-back position but Martin Kelly put in an accomplished shift there in his stead at the KC Stadium. Patient, strong in the tackle and positionally sound, he was a calming influence at the back. Indeed, the fault of Mohammed Diame's goal was actually Damien Delaney's as he didn't move across towards the right flank to cover Kelly.
One can but hope that the Liverpool academy graduate is given an opportunity in his natural position sooner rather than later.