Norwich City may be 122 years old, but they have as complex a relationship with their identity as a burgeoning adolescent.

Their seeming lack of one was a key driver in Dean Smith's departure from Carrow Road, his hotchpotch of different footballing styles inciting a cacophony of furious chants even shortly after it had achieved great success.

Before him there was Daniel Farke, whose easily-defined and possession-based style epitomised the positive impact a strong identity can have on a football club at large. Supporters were proud to discuss their team's set-up, legendary managers were unreserved in their praise of it and good, technical players thrived on it.

Current head coach David Wagner's philosophy is far more complex than his compatriot's; once you've worked out one tenet of Farke's ideology, the others are fairly easy to predict.

Wagner's tactics comprise a very different set of seemingly unconnected preferences. He likes to take goal kicks short but doesn't mind his team going long. He wants his team to press aggressively but rarely prioritises athleticism in his centre-backs. It takes a bit more time to work out just what that identity is.

Once those connections are made, however, it's easy to see what his Canaries are trying to do in and out of possession. It's hard to compare Wagner to Smith, even if not every fan is completely on board with how his team plays.

Even from before Wagner's appointment the importance of this was undeniable, with the club's confirmation of his predecessor's sacking stating that they'd look for someone "able to implement a consistent style of play".

But there are downsides to easily defined identity, and Farke knew better about those than anyone else.

His Premier League team of 2019-20 was found out quickly, almost as soon as they'd dismantled the Manchester City side led by Farke fan Pep Guardiola. Tactically capable teams and coaches clinically dismantled that style of play, and before long Norwich were back in the Championship having collected just 21 points.

It hardly bears thinking about for the same fans who witnessed that downfall as they attempt to get out of the second division, but Saturday's 1-1 draw with Bristol City hinted at the same problem for Wagner and his men.

Robins head coach Liam Manning carefully plotted a way to exploit the Canaries' current philosophy at its core, hacking into the mainframe and corrupting the software that's made them play-off qualification favourites with two games left.

Eastern Daily Press: Bristol City had the better of their meeting with the Canaries on SaturdayBristol City had the better of their meeting with the Canaries on Saturday (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

One of the more unique aspects of Norwich's tactical system is how they build play up through their own defensive third. One midfielder drops deep to form a back three, the other pushes up to join the strikers and wingers in an incredibly high second line of attack, while the full-backs push high and occupy the space out wide.

What this, along with slow passing between centre-backs and goalkeeper, is designed to do is draw the opposition into a high press, leaving space behind the midfield that the attacking five seven are well placed to exploit.

But Bristol City refused to give it into this bait, happy to leave space between their attack and midfield with no home player there in any case.

That stifled Norwich's ability to get forward, but their deep midfielder under significant pressure, upset the rhythm that came from eight consecutive home wins and left them looking bereft of ideas.

The south-west side are a good one, of that there's no doubt, but the universality with which their instincts were curbed will surely cause concern as the season reaches its crunch point.

The good news is that Wagner is adaptable, and with an analysis department as comprehensive as his should be able to get round any future iteration of the press that isolated his front men.

This development is another strand to consider in a series of them running through the yellow and green promotion push, and it’s a potentially crucial one.