The worst thing about Watford's defeat at Crystal Palace on Saturday was not the fact the Hornets failed to test Wayne Hennessey in 90 minutes, or that it sealed a third defeat from four in the Premier League.

It wasn't even the thought that Watford would be last on Match of the Day, again, only to be saved by what actually seemed a far more entertaining stalemate at the Stadium of Light.

Instead, far more dispiriting was the striking inevitability of the Groundhog Day moment that would follow after the game.

"If we continue like this, we will be on a good path," said Walter Mazzarri in his post-match press conference, not for the first time in recent weeks seeing a performance that few others had. "We should have done better going forwards but in the other three-quarters of the pitch we did very well."

Yes, for most of the game, Watford had kept a confident Crystal Palace side at arm's length, and the hosts racked up one of those bizarre anomalies by winning a game without having a shot on target.

But that is not enough. A void of clear-cut chances is not enough. This fanbase has been through the mill in the past few months, and had the season begun immediately after the 3-2 win over Everton on December 10, the club would be in the relegation zone.

The Hornets fans were owed a performance at Selhurst Park and were rightly promised one, after a two-week spell without a match to ready them for Saturday's game.

Instead, what unfolded was one of the most toothless attacking displays of the season. Balls were aimed at Troy Deeney but without anyone willing to run beyond him his flick-ons were totally redundant, and neither Daryl Janmaat nor M'Baye Niang beat their full-back all afternoon.

Palace's winning run has co-incided with an improvement at the back, but Watford never stretched Sam Allardyce's men, never moved the ball quickly enough, and instead let them get into position and frustrate the Hornets.

That the tone was a positive one from the head coach after another limp showing, and a fourth game without a win, disrespects the intelligence of Watford's fans. We all know what we saw, and if it was a "good path" I'd hate to see the state of a bad one.

We also don't need reminding that there was an injury crisis around Christmas, or that it affected the team. Even so, it's mad to think that with a few more points from games against the likes of Middlesbrough and Stoke, the Hornets would be in the top half.

But that rotten run of luck is still getting brought up two months on, when it's got precious little to do with losing to Southampton or Crystal Palace.

It is only fair to remember some of the comments after Watford's wins - after beating Burnley 2-1, Mazzarri said he was “not happy at all” with their second-half performance, sending a strong message about his expectations. But comments like that make Saturday’s reaction even more inexplicable.

Let's not go over the top, we are far from panic stations and realistically Watford will probably beat Sunderland, probably be safe and probably finish in mid-table.

But with the season drawing to a close, there are few signs of progression on the pitch, bar a brief improvement at the start of February, and the excuses are starting to fall on deaf ears.

Something has to change, and it would be good if it began with some frank honesty from on high.