While it's only one day turning into the next - the same as any other - the passage from December 31 to January 1 is always special.

A New Year means a clean slate where you can mentally put the mistakes of the past 12 months behind you and move on in a positive fashion - well it's supposed to anyway.

Unfortunately Braintree Town's players weren't reading from that particular script when they faced Ebbsfleet and for the second time in less than a week, they shipped four goals to the side from Kent.

Old habits - the ones that were supposed to be consigned to the rubbish sack of 2018 - surfaced once more.

Oh dear!

Had the Fleet been a superior side then it would be easier to accept a 4-0 defeat, but I've seen far better in the National League this year.

Yet Braintree made them look like world beaters at times.

They appeared to have the freedom of Cressing Road, leaving the Iron's ranks in disarray and it appeared that every attack could bring a goal.

The players really do have to hold their hands up and accept they let themselves and the fans down this time and that's a shame as I know they are working as hard as anyone to get things right.

Since he has come in, boss Hakan Hayrettin has made the point about the lack of previous National League experience within the squad and how tough that could make their survival bid, but I felt this was a time that it was really evident.

There was a naivety about how the Iron defended in the first half and it seemed they were crying out for at least someone to take the game by the scruff of the neck - someone seasoned at this level who could calm things down and take real control in key situations.

But those players command a big pay check - money that the Iron just don't have if they want to balance their books at the end of the month.

And that's something else that this game threw into focus.

The spending power of some clubs in this division is in stark contrast to the resources that Braintree have.

For example, former Witham Town man Cody McDonald tormented the Iron's defence and his two goals across the two festive games underlined what a good player he is at this level.

If you want to talk about experience, then a man with 300 Football League appearances and almost 100 goals under his belt at the likes of Norwich City, Coventry City and Gillingham will make a considerable difference in the National League.

He's only just come into Ebbsfleet's squad, though, after leaving AFC Wimbledon last summer.

I'm not pretending to be privy to how much they are paying him, but I'd assume that a player of his quality isn't out of the bargain bucket and that shows how the Kent club and others like them have a far greater spending power than the Iron.

If ever the phrase 'punching above their weight' was apt, then I think it's now for Braintree.

It was also clear how losing key players at crucial times has hampered them.

When he came in as manager, Hakan Hayrettin was desperate for a good start to provide a platform of confidence that the team could build from, but his two first-choice strikers - Mo Bettamer and then Reece Grant - left to pursue dreams of full-time football that Braintree couldn't offer.

Then, on the back of a heartening and timely win at Maidenhead on Saturday, Joe Ellul announced that he was departing to take up the chance of playing in New Zealand.

Joe's absence, like losing the goals of Mo and Reece when they were most needed, was telling in a crunch game on Tuesday.

So where do they go from here?

To Halifax on Saturday would be the most obvious answer, but in terms of picking themselves up, the players need to travel north with a point to prove.

They are better - much better - than what they showed on New Year's Day so that in itself should put fire in bellies.

Players and staff insist that morale is still high so show that on the pitch in the same way that you did at Maidenhead and let's have a belated - and proper this time - start to the New Year.