It’s difficult to say categorically how much Fleetwood followers should read into their defeat at Blackpool, but cracks would appear to be surfacing which definitely need some attention.
READ MORE: Barton claims Fleetwood team was leaked to Blackpool before game
We must bear in mind the Cod Army had won five games on the spin heading into the Fylde coast derby crunch at Bloomfield Road on Saturday.
But four of those five victories had come in the FA Cup and Leasing.com Trophy, and all of those against so-called inferior opposition.
The one League One success in that run was a deserved outcome against Tranmere Rovers at Highbury, but Joey Barton’s men have not won back-to-back league fixtures since the opening two of the campaign against Peterborough and Wimbledon.
Is it a cause for concern or merely a hint of inconsistency as Barton’s team are still handily placed in ninth in the third tier?
They are just two points outside the play-offs with one or two games in hand on all the clubs above them.
Only time will tell and only results will define their campaign.
Losing the injured Jordan Rossiter for the season will undoubtedly prove a big blow.
The Rangers loan man was in terrific form in the Fleetwood engine room, and he was a big miss against the Seasiders.
A January move for a similar type of energetic and influential midfielder of similar talent will surely be placed on Barton’s agenda over the next few weeks.
The form on the road must be quite a concern for the Fleetwood management team too.
Barton admitted after the recent defeat at rock-bottom Bolton that his team left him baffled by their showings on their travels.
And there was more evidence of that slight tentativeness at Bloomfield Road, particularly during the crucial opening 20 minutes of the second period.
What may be the most concerning for Barton right now are the “disgruntled people ” he spoke of around the club, suggesting such individuals were behind a leak of team secrets. That’s a situation which, of course, can’t be allowed to continue.
Barton will be tested over the next few weeks and definitely through what is sure to be a gruelling Christmas and New Year programme, though it’s important to focus on the many positives.
If Fleetwood won their games in hand they could jump right back up to third in the table , right back into the thick of the automatic promotion shake-up.
Defeat on derby day isn’t the end of the world for the Cod Army but there are undoubtedly situations and possible scenarios which will keep Joey Barton very, busy during the coming weeks and months.
Fleetwood player ratings: Crellin 6, Coyle 7, Eastham 6, Souttar 6, Andrew 6, Burns 5 (Evans 54, 7), Dempsey 5, Coutts 7, Sowerby 5 (McAleny, 65, 6), Morris 5, Madden 6; subs not used: Cairns, Clarke, Southam-Hales, Biggins, Garner.
Next match: Gillingham (home, Saturday, December 14, 3pm; Sky Bet League One)