FOR the second time this season Wrexham were struck down by new manager syndrome on Saturday as Danny Wilson made a winning start to what looks to be a herculean task to save Milton Keynes Dons from relegation.
Just as when Sheffield Wednesday relieved the Dragons of three points to give Paul Sturrock a glowing debut back in September, a 3-0 scoreline was hardly a fair reflection of the match at the National Hockey Stadium except insofar as Denis Smith's side were the authors of their own misfortune.
The visitors dominated the match for long spells but, as has been the case on so many occasions since the campaign began in August, their inability to convert chances into goals meant there was a certain inevitability to the eventual outcome long before the final whistle brought an end to another miserable afternoon for them and their supporters.
What made it worse was the fact the Dons, who had not tasted victory in 11 previous league matches, might have scored five as they soaked up incessant pressure but still managed to give their opponents a lesson in the art of finishing.
That apart, their record thus far suggests they will struggle to survive, while Wrexham, who can and will play better, simply endured one of those afternoons when nothing went right for them.
And neither manager went over-board in assessing what was as poor an advertisement for League One football as they are likely to see, with Wilson admitting that his side got most of the breaks and Smith looking beyond his current injury crisis.
"We had a couple of heart-fluttering moments and we rode our luck at times," said Wilson..
"Denis will be disappointed with three goals but one goal would have sufficed for us today.
"Wrexham are a strong physical team and we had to be at our best to keep them out. Certain things happen in games and us getting an early goal certainly helped.
"Because we scored early in both halves we took a bit of anxiety off our shoulders and put it on Wrexham's because they were chasing the game then and anything can happen.
"They might have scored one to get back in it or they could always concede another."
Smith, who had two teenage scholars in his starting line-up and two partially-fit players among his five substitutes, said: "What I need is hopefully about 10 points and seven or eight players back and that will make the difference.
"If I can get the players or the points back then I've not got a problem. Until then, as I said to Danny after the game, I think we've both got a lot of hard work to do."
The Dons, obviously keen to impress their new boss, gave themselves the ideal start, chasing the ball to little effect for the opening seven minutes and then scoring a stunning opener out of the blue when Canadian Nick Rizzo lashed a ferocious effort past Andy Dibble from 25 yards.
It's pointless to speculate whether a younger, more agile Matt Baker might have got across his goal quicker but the veteran, recalled for his experience, then covered a mistake by Shaun Pejic to save from Dean Lewington before the visitors steadied themselves to mount a fightback.
Steve Roberts glanced a 16th-minute header just wide of David Martin's goal and the central defender was denied twice more in quick succession, seeing one effort blocked before Lewington completed a goal-line clearance following a handling error by the Dons keeper.
Teenager Levi Mackin, making only his second league start in place of the suspended Darren Ferguson, was kept busy delivering corners at regular intervals as the Dragons enjoyed plenty of possession and spent the majority of the play in their opponents' half of the field..
But Juan Ugarte snatched at a 27th-minute chance, thumping a first-time volley well wide when he might have taken a touch, and strike partner Hector Sam, who had been ill the previous day, turned smartly but drove his shot narrowly off target.
And, although Andy Holt pushed forward at every opportunity to deliver the ball with monotonous regularity into the Dons penalty area, defenders Steve Palmer and Ben Chorley were able to use their physical advantage to good effect against the Wrexham strikers.
Given the situation it was inevitable that the home side would make an occasional break and Wade Small, switched by Wilson from a front role to playing just behind his strikers, forced Dibble into a decent save as the first half drew to a close.
It was a foretaste of things to come five minutes later when a spirited run by Roberts was wasted by Sam's inability to hold off a defender. The Dons immediately raced downfield and Small benefited from a slip by Dennis Lawrence to tap home his side's second goal after his first effort had posed no threat.
Four minutes later, Wrexham's woeful limitations were encapsulated by Chris Llewellyn, who contrived to hit the bar from six yards when Lawrence brought down Holt's long throw, and their luck did not improve.
A second goal-line clearance, this time from Gareth Edds, frustrated Roberts once more and the defender then stretched just enough to deflect away a cross from the waiting Llewellyn following neat work by substitute Chris Armstrong.
Dons survived again when Simon Spender's low centre skidded across the face of the goal, despite the best efforts of Llewellyn and Holt to turn it into the net, and when Alex Smith lofted the ball forward, Llewellyn saw his shot blocked by Martin.
By way of contrast, the home side had no hesitation in trying their luck from outside the penalty area and Dibble did well to hold a fine effort from substitute Shola Oyedele.
But he had no chance when Small, looking marginally offside, raced on to Alex Tapp's pass to complete the scoring six minutes from the end.
MILTON KEYNES DONS:
Martin; Edds, Chorley, Palmer, Lewington; Small, Mitchell, G Smith (Tapp 51), Rizzo; McLeod (Oyedele 70), Smart (Williams 87). Subs: Herve, Heald.
WREXHAM: Dibble; Pejic, Roberts, Lawrence; Spender, Mackin, Green (Crowell 85), Llewellyn, Holt; Ugarte (A Smith 60), Sam (Armstrong 59). Subs: Baker, Jones. BOOKED: Lawrence.
REFEREE: Paul Melin ATT: 3,601
* MAN OF THE MATCH... Andy Holt
Worked hard and provided plenty of threat Dragons youngster Levi Mackin is tackled by Dons defender Alex Tapp HWW IILLLLIIAAMMSS