After exceeding expectations for half a season, Norwich are now starting to face the reality that they might not be good enough for automatic promotion.
The Canaries are without a win in four Championship games (five in all competitions) and are in desperate need of a victory on Friday night if they are serious about their top two ambitions.
Against Birmingham, they face a team who also need a win to keep their play-off charge on track after a run of three games without a win.
The Blues are currently eighth and sit four points outside the play-off places, but with the top half of the Championship becoming more congested each week, they can’t afford to allow that gap to grow.
Both could cancel each other out as they search for a badly needed victory.
Norwich have been the kings of late goals in the Championship this season and, to their credit, have kept that trend going throughout their recent dip in form to prevent a total disaster.
Trailing 3-0 at home to Nottingham Forest, Norwich somehow salvaged a 3-3 draw courtesy of a 98th minute equaliser and they scored late equalisers against both Brentford and West Brom.
Before Christmas, Norwich came up with late winners against both Blackburn and Bolton to rescue unlikely victories and both of those goals came courtesy of top-scorer Teemu Pukki.
Pukki has scored eight times in the last 10 minutes of games this season.
No one has scored more winning goals than Pukki in the Championship and the former Celtic reject has had a massive impact, scoring 15 league goals.
He has often rescued Norwich when the chips were down and is the best bet to score if they need a goal on Friday night.
Carrow Road has seen 16 goals in five Championship games since November. And while Norwich have failed to keep a clean in all five of those home games, they have scored at least three goals per game in that time.
On the flip side, they’ve also conceded at least three goals in home games to Nottingham Forest, Millwall and Derby with supporters treated to injury time goals in each game.
Birmingham have scored in every away game since September and have the players to hurt Norwich’s shaky defence.
Gary Monk’s side have been slightly more watertight on the road recently than Norwich have been at home, keeping two clean sheets since the beginning of November, but they will struggle to keep Norwich out on Friday.
Norwich have a tendency to wear teams down at Carrow Road and they came up with a 94th-minute equaliser to secure a 2-2 draw when the sides met in St Andrew’s at the start of the season.
It is not unthinkable that something similar might happen tonight.