It’s difficult to know where to start with this humbling derby day defeat – but it certainly feels like the end.
Of the year where they sneaked, just, out of relegation danger and then fell straight back into it.
Of the line for the misfiring players inherited by Ray McKinnon.Of patience for those in the stands who turned on directors and the board after James Vincent sent Dunfermline 4-1 up.
Of the world, even just for a minute or so, when others who didn’t stay to have their say swept out of The Falkirk Stadium after just over an hour of abject football.
“To put it mildly, embarrassing,” said Ray McKinnon of his side’s defending, but it reflected the entire display.
Pre-match and during.
While Dunfermline walked out to a vibrant, noisy welcome from the visiting support, Falkirk’s was card show indicipherable. Intended to read FFC, you could make it out if you squinted and peered long enough.
But that’s Falkirk 2018/19. Unrecognisable from the FFC Scotland has come to know. And viewed through a grimace and screwn-up face.
Then, there was the display on the field.
For all of nine minutes it was derby day glory.
The away fans were silenced, save for protests against their team’s management – yes the Pars support are unhappy with the stewardship of a side that slipped through Falkirk with ease in a 4-2 derby day drubbing. That’s how far the Bairns have fallen.
Joe McKee strikes on significant days. He did it again by steering in Zak Rudden’s knock-down after two minutes.
The changed formation, from 3-5-2 that has worked in buoying the Bairns since its discovery, to 4-4-1-1 had worked, but then Dunfermline went man for man and there was only one winner. Well 10 winners because every personal battle in the field of play was won by a black-and-white shirt.
Falkirk found Kallum Higginbotham eight years ago and he’s gone on to become the Pars’ talisman. The Bairns have also teed up his successor, Myles Hippolyte, and he put the Bairns to the sword, first with his scrambled equaliser and then with an imperious performance alongside Englishmidfield duo Higginbotham and Tom Beadling.
Beadling won’t find an easier finish than his first and Dunfermline’s second when he nodded in at the backpost, and then added to it when he rounded off a second half move where Dunfermline were toying with their toiling hosts.
James Vincent struck the fourth and sent many Bairns home, and they missed a lovely strike from Scott Harrison, turned in on the line by Rudden. It still was not enough. Far from it.
“There are players there who won’t play for Falkirk again,” the boss admitted, closing off the sorry Scottish Championship careers of several who have failed to come close to the expectation served up in the summer.
With every end comes a beginning and Ray McKinnon has started his recruitment in earnest, signing Paul Dixon, but on this evidence he needs a lot more to get competitive.