When Marcelino Nunez burst onto the scene at Norwich City with the vigour and craft they were crying out for, many wondered whether this was too good to be true.

The ease with which he waltzed into English football and stood out in games was a refreshing antidote to the clunky awkwardness Canaries fans had been subjected to for nearly a year.

This was a man they'd been told needed time to adapt, and yet when he was thrown straight in at the deep end against Wigan Athletic there were no signs of that requirement whatsoever.

Especially against the backdrop of fellow-South American Gabriel Sara's fitness struggles, Nunez appeared to be thriving on the more physical football he appeared able to slow down and speed up at will.

A promising and energetic performance against the Latics was followed up by means of automatic endearment: a panenka in a high-pressure penalty shoot-out against Birmingham three days later. By the seventh day since his debut he had a direct free-kick goal, and the signs were pointing in one very positive direction.

The logical deduction was that Stuart Webber had found another gem, a bargain at any price he could afford but especially at £3.3million.

The Pink Un: Nunez enjoyed a bright start to life at Carrow Road.Nunez enjoyed a bright start to life at Carrow Road. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

Nunez's raking long passes became a feature, his purposeful drives forward a powerful asset. Where previously there had been doubt over where the chances were coming from, Smith now looked like his answer was right there in front of him.

The Chilean played a key role as Norwich turned their form around, his confident endeavours now complemented by a more free-flowing team. His interactions with Max Aarons, Danel Sinani and Kieran Dowell were fantastic to watch as a canny right side propelled City to wins over Huddersfield and Millwall.

The 22-year-old was a constant as Smith's side whistled to nine games unbeaten, and, barring a sloppy concession against Bristol City, he was regarded a significant part of that run.

It was when Norwich hit the brakes that Nunez began to. He had already faded from the Emi Buendia-esque controller of games to another good player in a reasonably good team, and when his team fell apart his absence was damaging.

Instead of being at the forefront he decayed in the background, his waning influence a source of irritation in a sea of them for the Carrow Road faithful.

It may seem harsh to criticise him given the caveats applied to Sara, but the fact remains that Nunez hasn't produced a goal or assist in nearly three months. Even the season total incorporating those exciting few months (two) is underwhelming for a player with his talent and in his position at this level.

The Pink Un: Nunez' early-season form has tailed off in recent weeks.Nunez' early-season form has tailed off in recent weeks. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

Now the task for Nunez will be to recapture those first few months, and force himself back into the foreground of the yellow and green picture. 

There was a time when the 13-cap international's place in the line-up was almost guaranteed, but the quartet of Sara, Isaac Hayden, Kenny McLean and Aaron Ramsey have usurped the midfield system in which he thrived.

The talent possessed by the number 26 is clear for all to see, but the seemingly recently-developed tendency to go missing must be eradicated.

If it can be, City have a player who belongs higher than their current level. A Nunez that reaches his potential is one who won't have to wait long in the Championship, whether that's with the Canaries or elsewhere.

Finding that player is easier said than done, and it's a huge task facing both Dean Smith and his potential chief creator.

Nunez must now prove that the guile he showed early on was in fact not too good to be true, and that his star can shine brightly once again as City chase Championship promotion.