THERE were many disappointing aspects of the FA Cup defeat against Darlington. The defenders were slow and unsure of themselves; the midfielders did not create enough in the final third of the pitch; and the attackers could not hit the target.
The crowd figure was poor (3,442) and the chance of a money-spinning tie against glamour opposition has disappeared for another year. But most significant of all perhaps, the cup game indicated yet again that Wrexham's performances at the Racecourse are becoming a cause for concern. At the moment, the concept of 'home advantage' is a foreign one to both players and supporters alike.
On the face of it, home form does not look too bad. This season, in all competitions, the Dragons have so far played 13 matches at the Racecourse.
Their record is Won 6, Drawn 3, Lost 4.
However, scratch the surface, and there's a serious problem. The Reds have won half a dozen games at home BUT two were against struggling Yorkshire sides in meaningless cup competitions (Bradford, Huddersfield) and two were against extremely poor sides in our own division (Swansea, Exeter).
That leaves the 1-0 victory over Oxford (way back in August) and the 3-2 triumph over Bournemouth (a lucky result given that the Reds were poor for 60 minutes and scored with a wonder-goal at the final whistle).
The defeats have been bad. Losing 3-0 to Everton can be excused, but the 5-2 mauling by Rochdale was embarrassing. Sadly, the 2-0 reverses against Lincoln and Darlington demonstrated what everybody was beginning to think anyway: on occasions, we are a very ordinary side indeed.
The draws haven't been fantastic either: against Boston, we conceded a late equaliser; when we played Bury, we threw away a priceless two-goal lead; and against Leyton Orient, the display was tepid and lacklustre in the extreme.
And if you take a look at the stats, the problem is confirmed. So far this season, we have taken 15 points from nine home fixtures (1.66 points per game) and 13 from nine matches away from North Wales (1.44 per game). Smith's men have got the fourth best away record in the third division, but only the ninth most impressive home record.
Things are not yet disastrous, but what exactly is going wrong on home soil this year? The fans are irritable and impatient - but that is always the case. The crowd figures are low - but they're always low. My diagnosis is a lack of passion, and that's why Smith has got to sign a Vinnie Jones-style midfielder - someone to boss things from the centre of the park, bully his teammates into performing, and rouse the fans from their slumber.
At the moment, we are devoid of such a personality.
There are lots of over-used cliches about prospective promotion sides, but "you've got to win your home games" is probably the most well known. And it's true. After the game on Saturday, several Darlington fans remarked that Wrexham did not look like a team lying fifth in the league table. And they were spot-on. That's the conundrum Messrs Smith, Russell and Jones will have to solve over the coming months.