If anything, they can feel relieved that they escaped with just a four- goal deficit against a rampant Derby side which was kept at bay for most of the game more by luck than design.
The Derby manager, Jim Smith, reflecting on a week which also saw his side beat Sheffield Wednesday 5-2 at Hillsborough, said: "Nine goals in a week is no fluke." He added: "Foreign players bring something a little bit different to our game."
For a man who fielded seven overseas internationals in Saturday's starting XI and who has seen foreigners score 10 of his side's 14 Premiership goals this season, that might seem like an understatement. In Paulo Wanchope, his 21-year-old, 6ft 4in Costa Rican international striker, Smith has unearthed a precocious talent whose dancing feet open defences even if it is sometimes not immediately apparent where the fancy footwork is leading. And in Francesco Baiano, his Italian forward, he has a tireless and imaginative playmaker.
Derby's opening goal came from the penalty spot after Southampton's Richard Dryden was judged (somewhat harshly) to have maliciously tackled Stefanio Eranio in the box and Eranio scored from the spot. Their second came from Wanchope, after a pass from Baiano, and their third from Baiano himself, after Wanchope and Eranio had combined to set him up. The icing on the cake came courtesy of Lee Carsley, who finished with some skill on the run after Wanchope had fed him a thoughtful pass.
Southampton, who were again without the ill-fated Matt Le Tissier (absent due to a family bereavement), were profligate with the few chances they had. Kevin Davies lacked composure and sliced wide from 10 yards after five minutes, and Stig Johansen, the Norwegian international, hoofed over the bar on the half hour when in front of goal.
The Saints' manager, Dave Jones, who saw last week's new pounds 1m signing Carlton Palmer make an assured midfield debut, was understandably unhappy with Derby's penalty, which he called "disgraceful", but acknowledged some blame lay with his team. "We shouldn't have collapsed like that. We need to be bigger and braver than that." To avoid an already impending relegation, they certainly do.
Goals: Eranio pen (76) 1-0; Wanchope (79) 2-0; Baiano (82) 3-0; Carsley (83) 4-0.
Derby County (3-4-1-2): Poom; Dailly, Stimac, Laursen; Rowett (Trollope, 78), Eranio, Carsley, Powell; Baiano; Burton, Wanchope. Substitutes not used: Hoult (gk), Van der Laan, Simpson, Hunt.
Southampton (4-4-2): Jones; Dodd (Hughes, 72), Dryden, Lundekvam, Benali; Johansen (Williams, h-t), Richardson, Palmer, Neilson; Evans; Davies. Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk); Todd; Maddison.
Referee: K Burge (Mid Glamorgan).
Bookings: Southampton: Neilson, Dryden, Davies.
Man of the match: Wanchope.
Attendance: 25,625.Reuse content