Either wolverhampton Wanderers have undergone a transformation that will make them worth watching this season or football is providing one of its August illusions.
The way Wolves dismantled Sheffield Wednesday underlined a newly-acquired potency that could finally elevate them into the thick of the Championship promotion battle after their endless 'also-ran' years.
Twenty-six League games up to FA Cup third-round last season brought them 24 goals, with 23 conceded; hardly big box office. The lack of a cutting edge denied them even a play-off place and stands in marked contrast to the rush they have already figured in at both ends in 2008-09.
Two matches played, six scored, three conceded – and a 3-2 Carling Cup victory in between. Where are the live TV cameras when you need them?
Leading the charge is Chris Iwelumo, the 6ft 4in target-man who, in a £400,000 deal this summer, decided Wolves were a better bet than Charlton Athletic.
Having had nine clubs in just over 10 years, he has introduced himself at Molineux with four goals in three matches to have his manager, Mick McCarthy, describing him as "the striker I've been seeking for two seasons". "I've been brought here to be a complete nuisance," the 30-year-old said. "It's the most exciting football I've been involved with. I don't tell people my target but, when I reach it, I'll be shouting from the rooftops. I don't believe I got this service at my previous club. I scored 10 at Charlton last season but I've got four now and that speaks for itself."
Wednesday soon pierced Wolves' unconvincing defence through Etienne Esajas' first Championship goal, only for a hamstring problem to then rob them of the winger on a day that ended with defender Richard Hinds in hospital with a suspected fractured leg.
Injuries last week had taken out Marcus Tudgay and Akpo Sodje and, in following a 4-1 win with a 4-1 defeat, some players were accused by their manager Brian Laws of giving up the fight.
Between Iwelumo's headed equaliser and tap-in for number three, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake drove in a penalty, then substitute David Edwards added a neat fourth.
Goals: Esajas (15) 0-1; Iwelumo (28) 1-1; Ebanks-Blake (pen 54) 2-1; Iwelumo (59) 3-1; Edwards (90) 4-1.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Hennessey; Foley, Stearman, Craddock (Collins, 7), Elokobi; Kightly (Edwards, 85), Henry, Jones, Jarvis (Keogh, 74); Iwelumo, Ebanks-Blake. Substitutes not used: Ikeme (gk), Vokes.
Sheffield Wednesday (4-5-1): Grant; Hinds, Wood, Beevers, Spurr; Esajas (Clarke, h-t), Watson (Smith, 67), McAllister, O'Connor, Johnson (Boden, 70); Burton. Substitutes not used: O'Donnell (gk), Gilbert.
Referee: M Jones (Mansfield).
Booked: Wolves Jones.
Man of the match: Iwelumo.
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