Once upon a time, many years ago, when the Edmonton Oilers first wore the blue and orange uniforms they wore last night, there was electricity in the air for a game against a defending champion.
Way back when, before the Oilers won five Stanley Cups of their own, a game like last night's against the Detroit Red Wings was identified by one and all as a "credibility game."
Back then, the credibility games were against the New York Islanders or the Montreal Canadiens.
And you could see, hear and feel them coming for days, with the buzz around the team and and around the town.
Those Edmonton Oilers didn't win all of them. But they damn sure showed up for them.
It was an embarrassment to the uniforms the Oilers wore last night that the passengers and puddy tats parading in those silks -- a team that went into the season viewed as a group ready to reach for the top -- put up such a pathetic performance in such a game.
Last night was a "no credibility" game for the Oilers.
They no-showed. And they have no credibility.
The team which only three nights earlier had come out flat against the Red Wings in Detroit and went down 3-0 in a hurry, did the same thing in front of their own fans.
DIDN'T SHOW UP
Flat from the opening puck-drop once again, the Oilers didn't show up for a game that should mean more to them than just another one on the 82-game schedule.
The Red Wings had a 1-0 lead and a 5-0 edge in shots on goal by 1:50 of the first period.
Then the Oilers lost two faceoffs in their own end on power plays, and it was 3-0.
"The first two-and-a-half minutes was a disaster, again, against these guys," said coach Craig MacTavish
"I can't put my finger on why we start real tentatively," he said of his team, which has been outscored 18-10 in first periods.
"We keep feeling our way into games, and it keeps costing us," said Sheldon Souray, one player who consistently shows up while half a lineup around him doesn't.
"We're better than this. Detroit took us to school three days ago and came right back into our building and did it again."
In a game which should be a prime ticket in the season ticket package, it was a waste of money because the Oilers didn't show up.
That they managed to score a couple of late goals was lipstick on the pig again.
"We haven't played a good game in our building yet, and that was our sixth game at home," Souray said of an Edmonton team that has played 14 on the road and isn't as tough to look at in the standings as they are more or less live and in person.
"We have to take charge in our building."
And what about the fans who have been forking up the money to watch them on pay-per-view?
The Oilers so far this year are 0-for-4 on PPV.
They were shut out 3-0 against Chicago, 1-0 by Boston, finally scored a goal against Nashville but lost 3-1 and then went down 3-0 and lost to Detroit.
If you don't show up to compete against the best when they show up in your rink, what does that say about your team?
EASY TO PLAY
The biggest single thing wrong with this team right now is that they're easy to play against.
"I think that's obvious," said the coach.
"We're very easy to play against, attitudinally.
"Collectively, we have to elevate ourselves in mental toughness and physical toughness.
"We have to compete harder. We don't have enough personal commitment, collectively. We have to get in there and battle.
"Good teams don't take those kind of penalties," said the coach of the crimes Shawn Horcoff called "lazy penalties."
Then there are the faceoffs in their own end -- which Horcoff is supposed to win.
"Those faceoffs just killed us," said MacTavish.
When you play against a team like the Detroit Red Wings in your own building, if nothing else it shows exactly what's wrong with your team.
"When you play a good team like Detroit, the answers are right in front of you," said MacTavish of a Red Wings team that has plenty of talent but which wins first and foremost because they show up and compete.
The Red Wings always have heart. Home. Away. Against good teams. Against bad teams. On every day that ends with a 'y.'
The Edmonton Oilers have plenty of good players.
But they've had a serious shortage so far of good pros.