What Albion fans needed was an afternoon of escapism from the grim reality of the transfer window. What they got was a painful, 90-minute reminder of the problems that have many at The Hawthorns fearing the worst.
Another game without a goal. Another day without a point.
And another occasion that fuelled growing concerns that last season’s eighth-place finish is as good as it gets for the Baggies in the Premier League era.
Steve Clarke still harbours hopes that the Albion hierarchy will pull a rabbit from the hat in the final hours of the summer transfer market to lighten the increasingly gloomy atmosphere around the club.
But, given the shortage of time as the clock ticks down to this evening’s 11pm cut-off, it is tough to imagine what chairman Jeremy Peace, sporting and technical director Richard Garlick and chief executive Mark Jenkins can realistically achieve to prevent a season of fighting at the wrong end of the table.
These teams were separated last season by just three points and it was the Baggies who came out on top.
But May seemed like a long way away yesterday and, in truth, it has done so throughout a depressing summer brightened only briefly by the star appeal of marquee signing Nicolas Anelka.
The Frenchman returned to the scene yesterday after a brief leave of absence that seemed for several days like it might become a permanent departure.
And the 34-year-old had enough encouraging moments to suggest his recruitment might still yield some useful dividends in a side looking for a new purpose after the record-breaking feats of the last campaign.
There were some decent bursts of pace, some clever touches and enough deft movement to prove the football brain that made Anelka one of the Premier League’s most potent forwards for so many years remains as sharp as ever.
But too many times the crispness of his touch was a fraction below what was needed and his legs did not quite have the zip to take him where he wanted to go.
And while the only big-name summer arrival continues trying to find a path in his new surroundings, the suspicion remains that his presence creates as many problems as it solves.
Anelka was used against the Swans as the lone central striker as Clarke reverted to the 4-2-3-1 system that worked best for longest last term.
But his laid-back presence as the supposed spearhead of the side robbed them of Shane Long’s energy and zest in a central role, while his deployment against Southampton on day one in the space behind Long saw creative fulcrum James Morrison exiled to the flank.
How to utilise Anelka is one of several burning questions that will occupy Clarke’s mind in the days and weeks ahead.
Because, while it is tough to dispute the head coach has been dealt a shocking hand by his superiors in the summer window, there are on-field problems that pre-date the close season for which the Scot himself must find solutions.
Since an early-season surge took them third in the table three months into the last campaign, the Baggies’ form has been the stuff of nightmares.
And while his frustration at the budgetary constraints are clear and justified, he cannot avoid his own responsibility to restore the missing spark.
Albion limped home to eighth in spring, albeit to a highly creditable best Premier League finish.
And a continuation of that form into summer and autumn means they have now taken just 17 points from 21 top-flight matches in 2013.
That alarming slump has come with largely the same core group of players that was riding high until a November trip to Swansea and a heavy defeat that began the slide.
Yesterday’s meeting of the teams had more to commend it to Baggies fans than that horror show in Wales.
In fact, there were moments in the first half when the Baggies’ build-up play was pretty pleasing and, had Ashley Williams not blocked Billy Jones’ route to goal after smart play by Anelka, Michel Vorm in the visitors’ goal might have been tested.
Yet it was the Swans who led at the break thanks to full-back Ben Davies, who rifled home a 22nd-minute volley after Liam Ridgewell failed to halt Pablo Hernandez’s progress down the flank. And Vorm was never called upon to make a save as any tempo the Baggies had fizzled awayin a lethargic second half.
Michu teed up Hernandez for an easy second seven minutes from time, moments after the pair had combined and Hernandez had rattled the bar.
For Albion, it is just four shots on target in three games and one point on the board heading into the two-week international break. The resounding boos that greeted the final whistle were more than likely aimed in a number of directions.
There were some for the boss and his staff who have so far failed to arrest a tail-off in form.
There were plenty for his players, who have failed to reach their full potential now for a sustained length of time.
But there were more, one suspects, for the men ‘upstairs’ who were spending today attempting to paper over the cracks of a summer that has seen them left behind by almost all of their natural rivals.
It is tough to avoid the stark truth that two home defeats so far this term have come at the hands of similar-sized clubs who invested their £20m of extra broadcast cash on transfer fees for exciting new faces while the Baggies fiddled around looking for loans and free transfers.
How Clarke will hope that something exciting falls in his lap this evening to turn the tide of recent times.
And how his team’s supporters will pray that news from today offers more hope than the events of yesterday.