There can be little cause for complaint towards the footballing gods on Thursday night as Reading did themselves absolutely no favours by putting in a stunningly mediocre performance against a bang average QPR side, and were dealt a single-goal defeat as a result.
Jaap Stam made some rather sensible decisions with his starting XI, on paper, bringing in John Swift alongside Liam Kelly in midfield to add some creativity and also dropping Tyler Blackett for Jordan Obita. But it didn't take long for his fluid system to crack open. The Royals failed to kick out of second gear as the opening period unfolded and soon even that pace was a rare luxury.
Thankfully, QPR showed little by the way of clinical movement or finishing themselves, but openings were being made on occasion and finally they broke the deadlock when a cross found its way to the aforementioned Scottish bloke from Dorking, who eventually stopped celebrated just before his knee gave way, again. After that, the flow of the game failed to change in any way, shape, or form, with the half-time whistling offering respite from the dreary viewing.
A rousing kick up the Royals' collective backside was surprisingly not delivered during the break and Reading came out for more of the same. This time, the visitors sat further deep and played on the break, but were all the while vulnerable to a decent bit of attacking play. Garath McCleary came more into the game on the right flank and teed up Yann Kermorgant to hit the bar with a header, the Frenchman soon after playing a neat ball into the area that Swift failed to pick up on.
Ali Al-Habsi was called into action once or twice but in reality QPR weren't a genuine threat and still managed to look porous enough. And yet, Reading failed to build any momentum. Never was there a rousing surge of play, a sustained bout of pressure, a flurry of accurate shots pelted at Alex Smithies' goal. The Royals went a little direct late on, but it was too late, and, having registered one shot on target, they can't complain one bit about losing at home to a lower mid-table Championship side.
There are several worrying questions that need addressing from this defeat. Primarily, the standard of play was so far below par, it would have been kinder to just take the club out of our hands. It's not a new phenomenon, too. In five-and-three-quarters of the past eight games, the Royals have been pretty useless (Fulham, Leeds, Man Utd, QPR, and the first 70 minutes at Bristol).
The defence is ropy and threadbare, the same can be said for the attack. Beyond Paul McShane and Liam Moore's pairing, and Yann Kermorgant up top, there is no real alternative option that can sustain performance levels. It's telling that Stam only made one substitution on Thursday night, deploying Yakou Meite for Swift, and while another roll of the dice would have been welcome, there are simply no game-changers on the bench.
Finally, it's the tactics. Large portions of the Madejski crowd have happily gone along with possession football for the sake of results, understandably so, but it appeared against QPR to be lackadaisical, too nonchalant, beyond the players trying to enact it, and - most importantly - without a result to back it up.
It's not quite back to the drawing board, but this little rut that's emerged must be dealt with post-haste, with Derby and Fulham up next.