So it gets worse.
It matters not a jot that here was a spirited second half in which Sunderland dominated, hit the post, missed decent chances, had a goal ruled out for offside and left the field feeling sorry for themselves at not having snatched a point.
- Davitt: Norwich refuse to buckle in face of storm
- Report: Canaries survive late onslaught
Nor does it matter that Norwich City were useful home performers who had already seen off Arsenal and Manchester United. What matters is that as Martin O'Neill begins his second year in charge, it is with a 2-1 defeat rather than the 2-1 victory with which he began the first.
The time for understanding, praise for putting up a fighting display and deserving a bigger slice of luck has gone. Sunderland, with Chelsea at home as the next threat to the nervous systems of some of the Premier League's longer suffering supporters, are now deeply and truly in a relegation scrap.
For all the promise of O'Neill's sparkling opening months as manager, for all the hope the signings of Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson brought at the start of this season, Christmas looms with Sunderland just one place and one point above the relegation zone. It would take a net gain of six points just to reach halfway up the table.
"Not looking forward to it at all," wrote a Sunderland-supporting exile in Spain - he signs himself Jake when contributing graphics wizardry to Salut! Sunderland - before the game at Carrow Road. "Why did my Dad take me to that first match all those years ago?"
My own late father bears similar responsibility. If he had not taken me to Ayrseome Park, where I then saw Brian Clough win the game for Sunderland, I might have remained untouched by the bug. Jake and I have seen a lot since our separate paternal introductions to a club that was known in its heyday as "The Team of All the Talents". But that heyday was in the century before the last one. So we have had to content ourselves with that one magical FA Cup final victory - I am almost embarrassed to bang on about it nearly 40 years later - and enough ups and downs between top and second flights to induce chronic dizziness.
Each season we pray that things are about to change. Even this morning, on Twitter, I noticed a North-eastern sports reporter's comments about Sunderland being the sort of club that should be able to establish itself as a Premier League mainstay that occasionally reached the lower slopes of the European cup competition mountain.
He cited the staggering gate of 36,500 for a midweek game in late November just after a crushing 4-2 home defeat. He mentioned the superb stadium, the ambitious owner, the top-class manager.
Sadly, the more telling point about that Tuesday night in winter is that those hardy souls saw a 0-0 draw against the bottom club QPR, a match another of my pals described as being "as poor as you'll see all season". And while Sunday brought a better showing, it is hardly encouraging that the fightback did not start until Sunderland were 2-0 down and chasing the game.
Of course, these are the words of a bitterly disappointed fan. Of course, life will seem a whole lot better again if Sunderland can only add to Rafa Benitez's woes and beat Chelsea next weekend and Reading a few days after that. But what has been seen this season would make the world's most determined optimist a Doubting Thomas.
For the umpteenth time, Mr O'Neill, this team is not good enough. There is a glaring lack of quality and creativity in midfield, which means Fletcher feeds off scraps. Craig Gardner has at last reminded everyone he can score goals, too, but it is not sufficient. January transfer windows are rotten times to set about strengthening sides in trouble. But Sunderland are in a hole and that is precisely what O'Neill, with the owner's financial backing, must do.
So it gets worse.