Trafford trials for Phantoms
Almost as surely as England lose penalty shoot-outs, Derbyshire seem forever destined to flop miserably at Old Trafford.
Even when Lancashire can only put out half a side, as they did yesterday, the Phantoms can still be counted on to flounder horribly.
Their latest failure, by 48 runs in the Twenty20 Cup, was their sixth in succession in Manchester in all competitions since they actually won the inaugural Twenty20 meeting between the counties in 2003 - and there have been some pretty wretched performances in those dirty half-dozen.
From promising beginnings, the Derbyshire batting fell away alarmingly in reply to Lancashire's 173 for five.
They were well on the pace, with Michael Di Venuto and Marcus North going nicely, at 62 for one at the end of the eighth over but when North planted the first ball of Gary Keedy's spell straight to Mark Chilton at short mid on, the collapse was on.
Derbyshire lost five wickets for 25 inside the following six overs and their top six batsmen were all back in the pavilion at 87 for six.
It was again the Lancashire slow bowlers who put the squeeze on the Phantoms, Simon Marshall taking two wickets in three balls in the 12th - the second of those an excellent caught and bowled to remove Di Venuto for 31 - and Keedy had Graeme Welch lbw before Sajid Mahmood returned to obliterate the stumps of Ant Botha.
Marshall had another two-wicket over to send Jamie Pipe and Graham Wagg packing and set the young leg-spinner up for outstanding figures of four for 20.
For good measure, he took the catch at long on that made it 111 for nine.
It was all over off the fifth ball of the 19th over with Derbyshire 125 all out and needing to pull out a few stops to retain an interest in this competition.
The Phantoms could feel they were always going to be up against it when they allowed Leicestershire to pile up 204 last Friday but Lancashire's 173 was not out of reach, especially against a bowling attack missing Andrew Flintoff, James Anderson, Glen Chapple, Dominic Cork and Kyle Hogg.
It might have been an even more attainable target had Derbyshire made a better start in the field.
Lightning, having won the toss, sent in Marshall to open because Mal Loye was out with a back problem but Derbyshire dropped him three times in the first five overs.
Wagg, twice, and Tom Lungley all missed chances to give their side the breakthrough and Marshall, in a first-wicket stand of 66 in less than seven overs, went on to hit a useful 39.
But after that start, Lancashire should have been disappointed to fall well short of the 200 that had seemed in reach.
Spinners Botha and North bowled tidily, so too did Kevin Dean and Steffan Jones caused damage at the close with three for 26.
Derbyshire might have believed they could rise to the task this time but all they had to show at the end was another miserable failure.