SUNDAY’S East Anglian derby stirred feelings in me that I never thought possible. Namely pride in a 3-0 defeat.

As ridiculous and unfathomable as that sounds, I took heart from Town’s spirited performance and thought the score painted a flattering picture in the Canaries’ favour.

Don’t get me wrong.

Losing on derby day is never pleasant and always gut-wrenching (sadly now an all-to-common experience). It hurts and is demoralising.

However, my very low expectations tempered that disappointment and despite the same recurring problems proving costly at both ends of the pitch, there were things to be encouraged about. Without doubt.

In terms of the obvious negatives, it didn’t teach me anything I didn’t know already.

That Town were highly unlikely to keep a clean sheet – an idealistic, fairytale notion which lasted just over a minute – or create many chances (although how different things might have been been had they scored when they were on top).

Those have been issues all season so were unlikely to change on derby day, against an opponent scenting blood.

Clearly, they are failings that need addressing as a matter of urgency – with next season in mind more than this one, sadly – but I’d rather concentrate on the positives.

The character shown in recovering from such an abysmal start, getting a foothold and passing the ball with confidence.

Having more possession than the hosts, who were made to look anything but a title-challenging side.

Having more corners and shots, albeit little that troubled keeper Tim Krul.

And showing passion in the face of adversity, with both the players and their manager sticking together and standing as one amid a hostile, provocative environment.

I know what you’re thinking and of course I agree.

Football’s about taking chances and scoring goals. That’s the bottom line.

Norwich had three shots on target and buried all three, which is why they’re riding high at the top of the table.

Town, in stark contrast, are devoid of creativity in the final third and not a week goes by when we don’t bemoan their lack of cutting edge.

But given that this was almost certainly the last derby for a season at least – possibly years – I’d rather stick my neck on the line and say I was proud of the performance.

The fight was there and the players’ attitude and commitment were unquestionable.

They couldn’t be faulted in terms of commitment or work-rate.

They put up a fight and made life hard for Norwich (Darren Eadie’s post-match remark that the hosts were in “total control” was misleading).

Town are heading through the relegation trapdoor this season. We knew that long before Sunday lunchtime.

But they’re going down with a fight, rather than a whimper.

It’s far from ideal and not something I ever thought I’d say.

However, given the bigger picture, the finger pointing, trials and tribulations of an abysmal, tiring few months, I’ll take that for now.