LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Dimitar Berbatov (L) of Fulham shoots and scores his sides first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and West Bromwich Albion at Craven Cottage on September 15, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
It's, unfortunately, quite sobering when you realise that a player well out in the fringes at Manchester United can have such a cosmic impact upon a top ten team. It highlights the vast divide between Premier League teams and Dimitar Berbatov, the man in question, proved this point quite poetically today.
Fulham fans will not moan, though, because the former United man grabbed a brace and performed heroically as Fulham made if eight goals in two home games with a fine 3-0 victory over 10-man West Bromwich Albion. Away form aside, Martin Jol seems to be making a distinctly potent outfit and with Berbatov spearheading an attack that could potentially include an instrumental Hugo Rodallega, an inspired Mladen Petric and a classy Bryan Ruiz, teams around us should be getting somewhat worried.
Half an hour in an Fulham's dominance began to bear fruit as Alex Kacaniklic, who had a dream afternoon and perhaps put in one of his best performances in White, teed up Berbatov. The former Tottenham man proceeded to bend the ball sublimely around Ben Foster and Jol breathed a sigh of relief.
It wasn't long before the win was secured - though not through any further intrusion on the scoreline. A moment of madness from Peter Odemwingie led to his dismissal as the forward - deployed on the right of midfield on this occasion - lashed out at Sacha Riether. The red was both justified and deserved.
Berbatov, now beginning to control the match with his own talent-induced force field, came close with a diving header but his second would soon follow. Again, Kacaniklic was involved, as the winger won a penalty for the home side. Berbatov sent Foster the wrong way and West Brom were now, surely, more concerned with damage limitation.
Clarke made two changes to his side over the break in an attempt to change the path of the game and, to an extent, the plan worked. The Baggies looked more lively in the second period but, in truth, never looked particularly threatening. Chris Brunt forced a save from long range before striking the post from his own corner.
With that spell of optimistic venturing over, Fulham yet again took the driver's seat. Ben Foster made some exemplary saves as first he denied Steve Sidwell and then an on-rushing Damien Duff. Duff then returned with more venom but a deflected shot still couldn't fool Foster who, despite ending up on the losing side, put in a masterful shift.
Hugo Rodallega, who, despite not getting a goal was influential throughout, tested Foster twice and Berbatov tried again but all seemed in vain. That was until Sidwell popped up in the last minute of normal time with only an empty net to answer to.
That made it 3-0 and that left the impression we hoped it would: come to Craven Cottage and expect the toughest of challenges.