Signs of improvement or further evidence that this Sunderland team is unable to win enough games to win the promotion?
Phil Parkinson reflected a lot on the return journey from Fleetwood by bus.
Could they be based on the spectacular show against Doncaster Rovers?
To win the promotion, producing such shows every week is essential. Consistency is the key. The League One table remains heavily congested.
Sunderland is 13th, “only” four points off the playoff points with two games in hand on some teams.
A winning run would push Sunderland into the promotion mix despite all the uncertainty surrounding the club’s future with Stewart Donald trying to sell, the vast majority of fans want Phil Parkinson and question marks on how much this window will be spent with the team in desperate need a quality injection.
Sunderland started slowly in Fleetwood. Charlie Wyke takes a penalty, Ched Evans scores from the spot.
It was a big setback and it took some time to recover, but they slowly started to dominate the proceedings.
Chris Maguire should have scored. Luke O’Nien should have scored. Wyke’s header hit the wood.
But it wasn’t all one-way traffic, far from it. Fleetwood also had three excellent openings, Sunderland could not handle Danny Andrew’s threat from the corner routines, Jon McLaughlin called into action on a couple of occasions with a smart save.
Did black cats fully deserve a point, all three? I’m not sure that Fleetwood fans would agree.
Sunderland extended its unbeaten run to four games, three of these draws and two of those 1-1 draws.
Imagine that the stick that Jack Ross would have had playing with wings and drawing games 1-1.
There was a quick “We Want Parky” song from a small group, but it quickly turned into a larger “Sunderland” song as the Black Cats pushed for a draw.
The 1,000 point end is completely behind the team, following superb support at Keepmoat Stadium.
Parkinson has recently kept faith with a core of players, playing with a system he now knows, with impressive levels of effort and work rate.
However, the quality and the final product have been seriously lacking and there is a lot of work to be done in January to turn this team into a winning potential for promotion.
So far the holiday season has been constant, albeit unspectacular.
A desperate goalless draw at home against Bolton followed by an excellent victory at Doncaster and a point at Fleetwood.
Beat Lincoln City and it would turn into a good spell with eight 12 points, some momentum that is slowly being built and something to build on.
But it all depends on beating Lincoln because if they don’t, the pressure will increase again and the songs that ask for Parkinson’s head will get stronger.