No matter which way Nigel Adkins will look at Hull City ’s start to the Championship campaign, it's fair to say it hasn’t exactly gone to plan.
The head coach has overseen just two victories in the league after his first pre-season with the club as the Tigers enter the second international break of the campaign propping up the division.
Wins over Rotherham United and Ipswich Town, in August and September respectively, provided a much needed dose of optimism to dispel some of the gloom that has engulfed the KCOM Stadium further this season.
But, as the table begins to take shape, City’s position is increasingly worrying after picking up a measly total of eight points in the opening 12 games, an effort which has seen the club plunge to its lowest league position in 12 years.
City have been knocked to the canvas in the early rounds, but with seven months of the season still to be played Adkins is putting on a brave face and remains convinced his side have the quality and the know-how to battle their way towards survival as they did last season.
However, not since the 1998-99 season have City started as poorly.
Mark Hateley’s outfit picked up seven points from their opening 12 games in Division Three, 20 years ago, a run of form which ultimately cost him his job as the Tigers tumbled towards the foot of the table.
Warren Joyce took the reins as a player/manager and his side eventually did enough to pull away from the drop zone in what affectionately has become known as the Great Escape, as the squad pulled together as one to maintain the club’s Football League status.
Of course, two decades on, the stakes are not quite as great, with a spot in the third tier the punishment for finishing in the relegation zone, but does this squad have the character in order to pull through?
That remains to be seen and unfortunately the statistics are against them.
City’s start to the campaign is one of the worst the Tigers have endured in their 114-year history, featuring in their worst eight starts ever and relegation is a recurring consequence.
Transferring the records into the relative metric system of three points for a win and one for a draw in seasons prior to 1981, just four starts have been weaker, and on two of those occasions City were relegated.
In 1955, Bob Brocklebank’s team lost 10 of their opening 12 games, with a win and a draw coming in the other two, and perhaps, unsurprisingly, they were relegated from Division Two, as they were in 1995-96 when the Tigers had one win and four draws and were relegated come the end of the campaign.
In 1989-90 it took City until November to win a game in Division Two. They picked up seven draws in their opening 12 games, but they had to wait until their 17th outing to bag their first three point haul, a 3-2 win over Bradford City.
Surprisingly, despite their wretched form, powered by the goals of Andy Payton and Peter Swan, City climbed to a 14th-place finish, which acts as something of an anomaly in the club’s history.
Of the three previous occasions City have mustered eight points from their opening 12 games, relegation has come in 1935-36 and 1959-60 and it would have come in 1997-98 had there been three relegation spots in Division Three.
For context, City’s last relegation came in 2016-17, which started so well under Mike Phelan with victories over the champions Leicester City and away to Swansea City, but eight winless games followed as a wretched summer transfer window proved too much to come back from.
Undoubtedly, the Tigers have under-performed. With a wage bill of a top 10 club, according to vice-chairman Ehab Allam, City fans could be forgiven for expecting results that reflect that.
Few teams in the Championship are able to boast the international experience at Adkins’ disposal with ten players with senior caps to their name, while Kamil Grosicki and Jackson Irvine played major roles in the World Cup for their respective nations
It’s a point that Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder was keen to make before the meeting at Bramall Lane last weekend.
“It’s a dangerous game,” Wilder said. “They’ve got good players. If you look through their squad, if you look at the numbers they’ve paid for them, they’ve got quality there,” and yet the 1-0 loss to the Blades saw City fall to the bottom of the table.
While Adkins looks to the positives, the club will do well to heed the warnings of history and get points on the board sooner rather than later.