Matthew Tipton has advised everyone associated with Portadown to pay no heed to the calendar after a perfect storm of misfortune contributed to them slipping to the bottom of the Danske Bank Premiership.
Following a fortnight out of action under Covid-19 isolation protocols, a sluggish Ports outfit found themselves on the end of a Cliftonville backlash as the Solitude side put a run of three consecutive defeats behind them with a five-star display.
Goalkeeper Ben Pierce's illness-enforced withdrawal led to Scott Pengelly being handed a debut to forget; his failure to gather a tame Michael McCrudden attempt on 36 minutes helping to double the striker's tally and give the hosts a comfortable half-time advantage.
McCrudden would seal his hat-trick with a second-half penalty, while Pengelly's luck was out again when he made a smart stop to keep Joe Gormley's spot kick out, only for the ball to clip the inside of the post and fall perfectly for Daire O'Connor to convert the first of his quickfire double.
Despite his obvious disappointment and reluctance to cite the mitigating circumstances surrounding his side's preparations for the game, Tipton warned against pressing the panic button.
"We're bottom of the league but we've only played six games," he reasoned.
"I think people see the busy Christmas period coming up and start to fret a little bit but, in any other year, six games takes you only into the middle of September - and if you're bottom of the league in mid-September, I don't think people would read too much into that, especially for a newly promoted team.
"This season started a couple of months later than usual so, while it is nearly December, we've not played anywhere near as many games as we would normally have done by this stage of the year.
"We're a young side and we've had a bad day against Cliftonville after what has been a tough few weeks for everyone at the club, but the thing with young players and young teams is it doesn't take much for things to click and set you off on a good run."
Opposite number Paddy McLaughlin was delighted with treble hero McCrudden's clinical response to a tough spell of his own.
"It's Michael's first hat-trick for Cliftonville so hopefully it's the start of a lot of goals to come for him," he said.
"We know he's quality, he's top drawer."
CLIFTONVILLE: Brush, McDermott (Casey, 69 mins), G Breen, O'Reilly, C Curran, McCrudden (O'Connor, 77 mins), McMenamin, Foster, Donnelly (Doherty, 63 mins), Bagnall, Gormley. Unused subs: Dunne, R Curran, McKee, Maguire.
PORTADOWN: Pengelly, Crane, Finnegan, McKeown (McCallum, 46 mins), Tipton, Murray, Wilson, Croskery, McNally (Bonis, 46 mins), Teggart (Salley, 62 mins), Kerr. Unused subs: Lavery, McGrandles, Conaty, Healy.
Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown)
Man of the match: Michael McCrudden
Match rating: 8/10