Match verdict: Nottingham Forest 3 Wanderers 0
PERHAPS the writing was on the wall the moment it was evident David Ngog was too ill to play and Chris Eagles had not fully recovered from his opening-day ankle injury at Burnley to make even the bench at the City Ground.
The reality may be the current Wanderers squad is some way short of being able to cope with the absence of such influential figures up against a team like Forest who must now be a good early-season bet as Championship title contenders.
Regardless, manager Dougie Freedman could do little to hide his disappointment at the way his men started at the City Ground.
But to be fair to the club for whom he once plied his trade as a striker, it was a superb opening by a side which laid down a marker for their rivals while at the same time putting so-called promotion hopefuls Wanderers firmly in their place.
Barely 100 seconds had elapsed when Radoslaw Majewski’s threaded pass found former QPR striker Jamie Mackie who beat the Whites’ offside trap before firing the ball emphatically past Adam Bogdan for the opener in front of the massed ranks of Wanderers fans.
If there is any consolation in going behind early, it is that you have plenty of time to turn it round, and it looked like that might be the case when Darren Pratley flashed the ball across the Forest penalty area towards Craig Davies who could make only minimal contact before the seventh-minute chance was gone.
It was only a minor interruption to the red onslaught as Forest set about going for the jugular.
Bogdan had to be at his best to smother Chris Cohen’s arrowed in cross before Eric Lichaj tried an ambitious lob from 30 yards which went narrowly wide.
But the home side did not have things all their own way. Alex Baptiste looked competent enough at the back, but in the 15th minute he was presented with a scoring opportunity which was to prove Wanderers’ best of the afternoon.
The full-back latched on to a bouncing ball in the home penalty area and, with only goalkeeper Karl Darlow to beat, he shot weakly into his arms and the chance of an equaliser was gone.
Wanderers’ 19-year-old winger Rob Hall – who burst onto the scene so impressively in the Capital One Cup tie at Shrewsbury – put in a fine shift down the left, but too often his final ball was wanting.
It was left to Wanderers’ defender David Wheater to provide the biggest scare for the home fans when he ghosted into the penalty area to meet a Jay Spearing free kick only to see his effort cannon down off the bar before the linesman raised his flag for offside. It was that kind of afternoon.
Pratley, Hall and Davies showed signs they may be able to combine in attack, but too often their efforts came to nothing. This was exemplified by Hall’s cross-cum-shot in the 36th minute which eluded the waiting Davies on the edge of the six-yard box.
There was plenty of cause for optimism at the break, with Freedman’s men showing signs they could wrestle their way back, although bookings for Spearing, Medo and Pratley meant Wanderers might be walking a disciplinary tightrope in the second half.
And so it proved, but not before Andy Reid had doubled the Forest advantage in the 49th minute, thanks to another superb Majewski assist.
Pratley’s persistence almost paid off within seconds of the re-start when he went through on goal, forcing Darlow into a fumble before heading narrowly wide of the target.
Forest hit back and Greg Halford, who had caused Bolton problems all afternoon with his intelligent movement up front, hit Bogdan’s post with a diagonal shot on 52 minutes.
Soon after, Pratley conceded his second yellow card with an ill-timed challenge on Forest captain Chris Cohen which left his team-mates with a mountain to climb at 2-0 down.
That prompted Freedman to gamble by throwing on Jermaine Beckford for Davies and Sanmi Odelusi – another star of that Capital One Cup victory – in a move that reaped no dividend at all.
Instead, Mackie, Reid, Majewski and Halford continued to dominate and it was no surprise when Forest went 3-0 up in the 65th minute.
Although he had missed out on a deserved goal when he hit the woodwork, Halford provided the perfect cross for Henri Lansbury, who dived in at the far post to head home.
Wanderers could have been beaten by a few more than 3-0, and if they are to mount a serious promotion challenge their squad will need greater depth than is currently the case.
One man who could hold his head high in the wake of such an emphatic defeat was Medo. The 25-year-old worked tirelessly all afternoon for his team.
As if to emphasise the point, it was his shot in the dying seconds of the game which forced Darlow into his only meaningful save.
By his own admission, there is plenty for Freedman to ponder before Saturday’s QPR encounter, which now takes on extra significance as his side go in search of their first league win of the season against the team hotly tipped for an instant return to the Premier League.