These are the ways that leagues are lost; bogey grounds, bogey teams, long runs away from home without a win but worse; the repetition of things that do not work, over and over and over and over again like a nightmare that just won’t end.
I don’t believe in bogey teams or bogey grounds.
It’s not a mystery why we got to that horrible ground and struggle on that horrible pitch.
We go there and play the same deadening, awful, ineffectual football and it doesn’t matter who’s in the dugout because if the approach is the same then we can be read like a book and the counter to it is easily applied.
The way to stop Celtic on an away ground such as this is simple; put every man behind the ball and let us fumble about hitting high crosses into a penalty box filled with opposing players who only need to hoof it or head it clear.
As long as they concentrate they are sorted.
We lack the penalty box target man who might give them something to think about, and we have for years now.
This is why we do not win at Livingston.
Lessons are not learned.
The best chances we made today were balls through the middle.
Yet constantly, over and over again, we played the ball wide.
Over and over again our players crossed it into the penalty box where it hit a wall of home shirts.
And instead of learning from it and changing it we continued doing it.
What in God’s name was our manager thinking persevering with that inept style of play?
Why didn’t Jota and Abada run into the box with the ball instead of hitting those crosses?
Why didn’t we rely more on the full-backs and let those two support the lone striker?
Is once enough from this manager?
Is he going to learn?
This is the reality of away days in the SPL.
Packed penalty boxes and teams hitting you on the break.
Real questions will be asked of this manager and this team after today and they should be.
We’ve forgiven a lot because the home football has been exhilirating. Even in midweek we showed something,
Today we were dire, and our away record in Scotland is becoming a grotesquerie.
We’ve all given out a lot of benefit of the doubt, but that doesn’t have an inexhaustible supply and all involved better know it.
You gave this team Hearts because they were coming together still.
You gave them Ibrox because that could have gone either way.
But now that away record starts to have meaning.
Now it starts to loom large.
Martindale’s team has won its first game of the campaign, and it’s against us … that is unacceptable however you cut it.
There is no benefit of the doubt today. Just doubt.
Nagging, gnawing doubt.
Questions we were willing to put aside are now current, and real and require answers.
The manager has failed to grasp that SPFL football away from home is different than playing at home.
The big wipe open spaces don’t exist; you have to make them.
You do not make them hitting stupid high balls from wide into a packed penalty area.
This is ABC stuff.
Livingston today used a public park football tactic and it was enough to stop us.
There are no justifications for that whatsoever.
We have fallen another point behind Ibrox and that away record is now a problem, a real one and not just something that we can blithely dismiss because this is a new campaign.
That was woeful today and there are no excuses for it.
The manager and his coaching staff – who are a big, big part of the problem – had better come up with answers and they better come up with them pronto.