Is that the sound of the wheels coming off or is it merely the hubcaps rattling? Throughout Cardiff's recent lurch on to the hard shoulder Dave Jones has insisted the latter while the local press have helpfully diagnosed the former. At least the manager and his inquisitors could agree on the origins of another alarming noise on Saturday.
For while a clearly furious Jones provided a textbook "blast at the boo-boys" after this mouldy green stalemate, he also listed the reasons for such a show of disaffection towards a side who began the season as no-hopers but who are, remarkably, only two points off the top of the Championship despite their nightmare run.
"We raised the expectations with our incredible start, we ourselves set that bar higher," said Jones. "So it's no use us moaning about it getting hard now. We put ourselves up there to be shot at." Nevertheless, the fusillade that drowned out the final whistle did, quite rightly, "baffle" Jones, as did an attendance that dipped under 14,000.
"Where's the other 7,000?" he demanded, paying reference to the £5 ticket offer that still failed to draw them. "We need them. We're third from top not third from bottom. What do they want from us?"
A goal might help. It is more than seven hours since Cardiff scored, a failing manifested in the points tally of four from the last 18. In short, Michael Chopra is not firing. The much-vaunted Geordie has lost his Midas touch, his scoring touch, but he can still find touch, as he did with one "shot" during the frustrating second half.
In fairness, Dean Gerken, Colchester's 21-year-old reserve goalkeeper, had to perform some neat acrobatics to keep out one point-blank Chopra effort, although by then the nil-nil was written large. As the visitors' manager, Geraint Williams, said: "We're not negative, just hard to beat. We might even have nicked it there."
Indeed, Jamie Cureton's rousing curler did scrape paint. A goal would have been slightly more than Colchester - themselves higher in the table at 10th than most would credit - had hoped for and exactly what Cardiff feared.
For Jones the challenge is now simple: stay in touch until the transfer window, whatever it takes, and then spend, spend, spend.
"There's no point feeling sorry for ourselves," he said. "Yes we're running on empty as far as squad strength and confidence is concerned, but that's just the way it is. We've got to work hard and get through it. I've told the lads just to get us through Christmas and then I can help them. Until then, it's just us."
Cardiff City (4-4-2): Alexander; Wright, Purse, Johnson, McNaughton; Kamara (Cooper, 90), Ledley, Scimeca, Parry; Chopra, Thompson (Campbell, 68). Substitutes not used: Howard (gk), Loovens, Gunter.
Colchester United (4-4-2): Gerken; Halford, Brown, Baldwin, Elokobi; Duguid, Jackson, Watson, Izzet; Cureton, Iwelumo (Guy, 65). Substitutes not used: Cousins (gk), White, McLeod, Ephraim.
Referee: M Pike (Cumbria).
Booked: Colchester Baldwin.
Man of the match: Cureton.
Attendance: 13,512.Reuse content