The last four wickets went down yesterday with nary a whimper, as Derbyshire slid to a defeat that appeared likely from the first day and inevitable from the second.
For all Billy Godleman's worthy comments of pride in the second innings battle, until we start to do that over four days we will continue to look second rate at the long form of the game. There are signs of promise among individual members of the squad, but for some of them, next year is going to be key to their continued development - or indeed involvement in the first-class game.
Sustained and regular contributions of merit are key for any professional sportsman and the longer careers are enjoyed by those who overcome adversity and, by hard work and determination, together with no little skill, manage just that. In the current squad there are several examples among those who have 'made it' against the odds.
There's Billy Godleman, who was rejected by two counties before making Derbyshire his home. Wayne Madsen, who had to leave the country of his birth to pursue a dream and become one of the most respected players in the game. Daryn Smit, who had to bide his time while two more experienced players were given the role he wanted, before moving to this country. Luis Reece, rejected by Lancashire but turning up at Derbyshire to offer impressive skills in all formats. Tony Palladino, who went through stressful times that we can only imagine at Essex, before becoming one of Derbyshire's most valued journeymen.
Each of these players has had challenges this summer, but they are individuals around who our side for next summer must take shape. For younger members of the squad, the desire to join them has to be matched by their taking that next step forward in terms of personal achievement.
Averages of 25-35 have to be taken to nearer 40 for Ben Slater, Alex Hughes and Matt Critchley. All have showed that they can play a fine innings, but they need to do it more often and turn useful scores into match-winning and career-defining ones if they and we are to progress. Each has produced, at times, innings of rich potential, but they need to do more and set the bar higher still.
Then there are the bowlers. We have all seen Ben Cotton, Tom Taylor and Will Davis bowl well, but each has challenges ahead. Cotton needs to prove he can get players out, as well as keep them quiet, Taylor needs to combine an ability to bowl a wicket-taking ball with the equally valuable one of a further five that makes a batsman think each over. Meanwhile Davis, for all his talent (confirmed by thirteen wickets in two games) needs to show that his body can stand up to the rigors of the first-class game.
Harvey Hosein? In my opinion he is a good, solid keeper, but has work to do for me to see more than that, while his batting, organised as it is, needs to have an equal focus on scoring runs as staying in. That he has an excellent technique is undeniable, as is the fact that he bats time. Yet Paul Borrington used to get stick for not scoring quickly enough (unfairly, in my opinion, as I rated him) and Harvey has to do more to be the long-term county keeper that we all hope he can be.
Neither he nor Daryn Smit has yet produced the runs that we will need from number seven. With a first choice attack another year, assuming signing and fitness, of Viljoen, Davis, Tahir and X, there's not many runs to come after seven and whoever holds the role has to nurse the tail and contribute regular scores to hold down the role.
If these players can't do it, they will be aware of others awaiting their chance. I don't think Tom Wood or Charlie Macdonell have scored the runs this summer to push their prospects, while James Kettleborough took the opportunity of a trial with us to score 180 for the seconds yesterday, against a Yorkshire second team that included Bresnan, Plunkett, Sidebottom, Coad and Rafiq.
Kettleborough is another who has been rejected by Northamptonshire and Glamorgan, yet at 24 he is nowhere near his prime. This was his eleventh century of the summer, three of them for Bedfordshire and he has approached his desire for a county career in exactly the right manner - score runs, then score some more. Wes Durston did the same and was a fine player for us over several seasons.
The first-class game contains the creme de la creme, as Jean Brodie once referred to her pupils. That's why I have little time for those who denigrate the efforts of players, because by definition they are in the top one per cent of players in the country. Some will fall short, despite their best efforts, and that is harsh, but true. All will experience barren periods, because that is the game, as anyone who has ever played it will testify.
Others, either up and coming or plying their trade elsewhere, will come in over time and replace them if they don't meet expectations. Because professional sport is an unforgiving business.
Yet I don't think, echoing the comments of notoveryet last night, wholesale change is required. Budget permitting, we need a quality batsman and a decent seamer, maybe two. Tahir for the second half of the summer and an overseas who can bat and bowl for the first.
Oh - and progress, coupled with improved fitness, for key personnel.
2018 will be big and the planning starts now.