If we learned anything from Preston’s visit to Wigan, it is that the Lilywhites are in a new era of penalty-taking.
For three seasons, they had the largely reliable right boot of Joe Garner when it came to spot kicks, with a supporting cast of a couple of others.
Since Garner headed north of the border earlier in the campaign, North End have only had two penalties.
The second of those came at the DW Stadium, as early as the 10th minute.
Jordan Hugill took it and saw his tame effort parried by Latics goalkeeper Matt Gilks, the rebound hit with more power by the striker but put too close to Gilks.
It happened in front of PNE’s 4,765 travelling fans who filled the North Stand and was a pivotal moment in what proved to be a disappointing derby clash.
Had Hugill managed to add to his 10 goals this term, I’m sure we would have seen a much different game.
As it was the following 80 minutes while seeing plenty of effort, were devoid of quality.
The topic of conversation among the Preston followers as they headed back up the M6 and the West Coast main line was dominated by the miss from Hugill.
Some questioned why he was on penalty duty and were to suggest other candidates as being better options.
Let us not crucify Hugill here or use this as a stick to beat him with, after all missed penalties are not uncommon.
There was no disputing it was a poor spot-kick and should he have his chance again, the lad would go for power over placement.
The argument that Hugill should not have been taking it in the first place, is not one I particularly buy into.
As PNE’s leading scorer, confidence is not something he is lacking and strikers will do anything in a bid to add to their goals tally.
It is argued that he might have lacked composure in one-on-one situations of late which is reasonable debate.
However, I think a penalty is a slightly different kettle of fish, more a test of nerve.
There were others on the pitch who could have taken it and indeed wanted to.
Aiden McGeady was one of them and his cool head may have fitted the bill in this case.
Saying that, a trawl through the statistics show that McGeady last took one in 2010 during his time with Spartak Moscow.
Callum Robinson who won the penalty in the first place, is another who springs to mind.
He scored from the spot for PNE in the FA Cup tie against Havant and Waterlooville in 2014.
North End’s only other penalty this season came in the win over Blackburn in December.
On the spot that night was Daniel Johnson but on Saturday the midfielder was on the bench.
Preston boss Simon Grayson said post-match that Hugill was always down to take a penalty in the event of one being awarded.
You could add ‘unlikely’ to that sentence, bearing in mind this was only the second given to them in 38 league and cup matches this season.
There was a sense of irony that the referee who pointed to the spot was Chris Kavanagh.
At the end of October, Mr Kavanagh had denied PNE a clear penalty late in the league game against Newcastle.
This time, the game had been going for less than 10 minutes when Omar Bogle’s challenge just inside the box sent Robinson tumbling.
Greg Cunningham’s free-kick into the box had been headed down by Tom Clarke and partly cleared by the Wigan defence.
Alan Browne prodded the ball back into the box and as Robinson turned, he was caught by Bogle.
Hugill put the penalty low to the keeper’s left but it lacked power.
Gilks parried it, the ball came back slightly behind Hugill but he had enough room to have another shot.
He tried to put it towards the opposite corner but did not get the direction required and Gilks dived to hold it.
Had that gone in, I have no crystal ball as to the result but I would hazard a strong guess at it being a better game than what we were to witness.
The penalty had not been the contest’s first chance, that having come at the other end when Bogle got away down the left and saw his low shot saved well at the near post by Chris Maxwell.
That was the one save which the Preston keeper had to make, it being Wigan’s only effort on target.
The hosts tried to get new boy Bogle on the ball as much as possible and he did look a handful, however much of his work was done outside of the box and down the channels.
Paul Huntington and Tom Clarke handled him well, so too Will Grigg who looks to be anything-but on fire since making the step-up to the Championship.
With Wigan having four central midfielders in their side, space to play was always going to be at a premium.
McGeady could not make the impact he had done in the last two games, while the front two were well policed by the home defence.
For an hour, Daryl Horgan looked the most likely of PNE’s attacking players to make something happen.
He was bright and bubbly on the right-wing and had two shots in the first half which were not too far off target.
The Irishman’s influence waned after he got a knock and he was replaced from the bench by Tom Barkhuizen.
Earlier, Simon Makienok and Jermaine Beckford had joined the action in a double change – replacing Hugill and Robinson.
The 63rd minute switch did not have the desired affect, North End tending to go long to find Makienok and bypass the busy midfield.
Wigan finished that bit stronger, a fine sliding block from Cunningham taking the ball away from Bogle in front of goal, while Ryan Tunnicliffe put a shot over the bar.
Seven points in a week is not bad going but it could well have been all nine.
Had North End returned with a win, that would have moved them up to eighth and within seven points of the play-off positions.
As it is, they stayed in 10th place with nine points to claw back on sixth spot.
Match ratings and statistics
Chris Maxwell 8
Made a good early save from Bogle at the near post, after that his main job involved sweeping up behind his defence.
Tyias Browning 7
Another steady game at right-back, didn’t get forward as much as he had done in the two home games.
Tom Clarke 8
Captain’s innings in the centre of defence, won plenty in the air and didn’t let anything past him on a day when defenders were on top.
Paul Huntington 7
Tasked with marking Bogle and generally kept him in harness, forcing the Wigan striker to do most of his work outside the box.
Greg Cunningham 7
Not quite his usual self in the first half but the left-back’s challenge on Bogle in front of goal late on was excellent.
Daryl Horgan 7
Saw plenty of the ball in the first half and had a couple of shots which were just off target. Faded in the second half when he got a knock.
Ben Pearson 7
Busy in the centre of midfield and kept his discipline as the tackles flew as the game went on. Decent passing range.
Alan Browne 7
Hard-working display with few frills in the middle of the park, as Preston tried to get a foothold in there.
Aiden McGeady 6
Didn’t reach the heights of the previous two matches and didn’t make the impact he would have wanted. Passing was off radar.
Callum Robinson 6
Won the penalty early on but was in the main kept in check by the WIgan defence. Came off in the second half.
Jordan Hugill 6
Missed the chance to add to his goals tally when his 10th minute penalty was saved. Didn’t get much of a sniff after that.
Simon Makienok 5
Joined the action as one half of a double substitution in the 63rd minute but found it hard to get into the game.
Jermaine Beckford 5
Made little impact after coming off the bench with Makienok. Well marshalled by the home defence.
Tom barkhuizen 6
Replaced Horgan in the last 10 minutes and showed one or two nice touches as he tried to make his pace count.
subs not used
Daniel Johnson, Stevie May, Andy Boyle, Anders Lindegaard.
Gilks, Connolly, Burn, Buxton, Warnock, Power (Hanson 77), MacDonald (Perkins 85), Morsy, Tunnicliffe, Grigg, Bogle. Subs (not used): Obertan, Laurent, Mandron, Weir, Roberts.
15,117 (4,765 PNE)