Wolverhampton Wanderers put their fans through every shade of angst last season but the sufferers in the stands could chant "We are top of the League" with some justification.
A graphic of the top half of the table, on a flat-screen television in a concourse in the main stand, appeared to have stuck – as if proof were needed that it was fact not fiction. It was, after all, the first time that they had headed the field since August 1973. That it might be just a temporary blip, an early-season aberration, before the big boys start to kick into gear is undoubted. Indeed, two hours later Manchester City sneaked above them on goal difference after their 3-2 success at Bolton Wanderers.
The jubilant fans in old gold should also remember that after that great day in 1973, Wolves went on to lose their next five matches and eventually finished in 16th place. Mick McCarthy was wise to urge down-to-earth caution.
"I'm delighted, of course I am," the Wolves manager said. "But it's only two matches and I know how this league can come back to bite you on the bum. We start every season at the bottom alphabetically so to get back-to-back wins is brilliant. I've never been here before so I don't really know how to celebrate. Maybe I'll have a bottle of beer in front of the TV but I might fall asleep."
The manner of victory pleased McCarthy, too. Wolves were fast and fluid, solid at the back and displayed just the right hint of aggression to keep Fulham at bay. And never did they use any rough-house tactics, as the visitors' captain Danny Murphy had accused them of last season.
Murphy has since apologised and McCarthy has closed the issue. Just.
"We'd got this reputation for being a team that would kick you off the park and that was so unfair," he said. "That did us a disservice and I'm just glad to put that to bed. I took great pleasure in beating them in the right way."
The last time Wolves appeared at Molineux, they had to endure a fraught afternoon on the final day of last season. Yet although they lost 3-2 to Blackburn Rovers, events elsewhere conspired to preserve their Premier League status. A 2-1 victory at Rovers on the opening day of this season had ensured that they went into this encounter fresh in mind and body.
Perhaps not so Fulham, but at least they could not be accused of lacking match fitness. It was their ninth game of the season, which has included seven in a Europa League qualification process that started in June. Martin Jol, the Fulham manager, could also argue that he had honed his defence. In the eight previous outings, his side had conceded only one goal.
Jol, though, lost on many counts. The match, the club's unbeaten eight-game record and also Bobby Zamora, the striker, to a injury to his troublesome right-ankle. Zamora missed the defeat and is unlikely to play against Dnipropetrovsk in the second leg of their Europa League play-off round tie on Thursday. "He is doubtful," the manager admitted.
Fulham won the first leg 3-0 at Craven Cottage last week yet, to judge by their lethargic showing on a sunny afternoon in the Black Country, they might do well to hold on to that advantage in deepest and darkest Ukraine. Apart from an early flurry on Sunday, with Damien Duff and Dickson Etuhu going close, they were flat and uninspiring throughout.
Conceding both goals so close to half-time did not help them either. The tireless Kevin Doyle cleverly gave Wolves the lead, after twisting among a mass of bodies in the Fulham box, and then Matt Jarvis guided in the second after Roger Johnson's glancing header had struck a post.
Although Fulham only qualified for the Europa League through a Uefa Fair Play award, Jol still wants to overcome Dnipro. "We hope to get into the group stages," he said, unconvincingly. It's not for McCarthy, though. "If we get anywhere near that Fair Play thing," he said, "I'm going to tackle someone down the tunnel".
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