Walking away from Rodney Parade on Saturday, I was struggling to figure out how I felt about the 90 minutes I had just watched.

The latest three of 24 dropped points this season had left a familiar taste of frustration with a team seemingly obsessed with footballing self-mutilation. An unmistakable feature of the last two seasons that under a third manager has still not gone away.

But this game had not felt as hopeless as the two Colchester United collapses, for example, which had seemed to add punctuation to the end of some rather alarming sentences. Even if the infuriating trait of allowing a negative momentum switch after a promising start had eventually yielded a goal remained a core part of the collapse.

But in game two of Gunning’s tenure, we are still looking for signs of better to come. The team have quickly taken to his style of play and when they were able to combine, the passing moves were very slick and devastating. In both games so far, there has been a slightly troubling level of profligacy in the final third, but hopefully, the offensive additions will find a solution to that.

For the first time in his five games in charge, Gunning was faced with a side that had clearly set up knowing what he was going to try. Paul Glatzel and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy were met with two defenders wherever they went, and this made balls in behind trickier than the havoc Bradford allowed them to cause. But despite these shackles, Town were still much the better side and could have been multiple goals to the good at the break.

We were promised that this side would now be stepping on throats from advantageous positions, but the same old dropping deep still followed finally finding the opener. Gunning’s attacking changes helped to ease the pressure and Town once more should have found a winner as Zack Elbouzedi and Harry McKirdy made a big difference.

Despite having to look at another set of puzzled defenders standing around as the opposition fans hollered, scarcely able to believe their luck, the optimism that started to grow at about eight o’clock on Thursday still remained. The general football remained fun and the signings had seemed to slot in where they were supposed to go.

Ever since I jokingly said that the Daily Record might be referring to Swindon when they said McKirdy was on the move, that dangerous commodity of hope has been around once more. Is there going to be enough time to fix everything that went wrong since the last time Town played Newport? Probably not. However, there is enough time to give the impression that next season could be that season. Leaving the Fans’ Forum two days earlier, that thought was not even remotely crossing my mind.

McKirdy was the best possible player for the state of this regime and Gunning, Clem Morfuni, and the whole club have 16 games to use that hype to prove there is something here that is worth more than being dumped unceremoniously into the biggest dustbin you can find on April 28. Some of the permanent signings this window and the work that Jamie Russell did make me think that against all odds there might be.

More than anything this is about Gunning. He, more than anyone else, needs to prove himself as more than the cheap option by the end of the season. I like the early signs from him but now he has had his first setback, we will need to see the kind of response that Michael Flynn never found.