If teams don't show for the FA Cup, nor will fans
With both teams mired in the Premier League's relegation battle, their supporters - and players, and accountants - have more pressing concerns than chasing some unlikely silverware.
That may be why just 5,335 people turned up to watch. Wigan didn't even bother opening one of their stands, for an all-Premier League clash in the FA Cup third round on what used to be one of the most important days in the domestic football calendar.
Have the nation's football fans given up on the FA Cup as a meaningful competition?
The mascots of Wigan and Hull take advantage of extra leg-room at the DW Stadium
First, I've no desire to embark on some annual bleat about the magic of the FA Cup disappearing - the evidence for that magic is often spurious at best.
Nor is it possible, in one sweeping gesture, to say football has given up on the Cup. Reading fans turned up in numbers to see their team hold Liverpool, and Leeds fans packed their Old Trafford allocation to watch Sunday's humbling of Manchester United. The lower-division team versus the footballing giant is still a Cup story that gets hearts racing.
And yes, the weather was foul on Saturday in many parts of the country, particularly across the north of England. But it is obvious something is wrong with our perception of this competition. It feels like everybody looks forward to the Cup draw and we all think it's a bit special but, when the third round hoves into view, nobody bothers going.
For example, 10,831 people turned up to watch Bradford against Cheltenham, in League Two. That's more than double the Wigan attendance, and it would have cost you £5 more on the door as an adult at Valley Parade than it would at the DW Stadium. (£20 each at Bradford, compared to a knock-down £15 at Wigan, in an unsuccessful bid to bolster the attendance.)
Roy Highton, who represents Wigan's supporters' club, says Wigan did everything they could to get a decent crowd in for the game - but the fans simply weren't bothered.
"It wasn't an attractive tie for a start," he told me from the pub after the game. "I don't think the club could have done anything else. Whether dropping the tickets to £10 each would have got more in or not, I don't know.
"In the Premier League we've been averaging attendances of around 20,000, but today just wasn't attractive at £15, straight after Christmas and with the recession and all that.
"I think £15 is reasonable price for the club to set, though. I'm disappointed about the size of the crowd, but in a way I'm not because I expected it, and it's a bitterly cold day up here, it really is.
"The FA need to do something with the Cup to get it going again. At the third and fourth round stages, it's lost its appeal."
Football Association spokesman Adrian Bevington told BBC Sport the FA "want to reflect on all ties taking place" before commenting on the poor attendances at some matches, but other supporters lay the blame for the crowds (or lack thereof) elsewhere.
Robert Nichols, who edits the Middlesbrough fanzine Fly Me To The Moon, was one of 12,474 supporters who turned up to see Gordon Strachan's Championship side lose 1-0 to a much-changed Manchester City - roughly one third of the Riverside Stadium's capacity.
He puts the sparse attendance down to two factors: the weather and the price of admission.
"It was freezing. It was winter and an absolute blizzard," he said. "I've got somebody stopping with me now who can't get home. They're only trying to get back about 15 miles down the road but some of the roads are impassable tonight. A few people were a bit concerned about that - if they got to the ground, would they be able to get home?
"And secondly, it was full price for a ticket, which put a lot of people off. People who have got season tickets might not be used to paying up to £30 for a game, if they don't go to away games, so that's a big factor.
"The club should have cut the ticket prices to £20 for everyone - it would have made a difference especially just after Christmas. The club definitely made a mistake with the pricing."
I don't have to look very far to find a fan who can tell me all about the cost of following a team on FA Cup day.
My dad, Chris, has fanatically followed Manchester City for decades (for very little reward). He drove from just north of London to Middlesbrough to support City on Saturday. It took 13 hours out of his day to get there, watch the game and get home, and he put the cost (including fuel, a ticket and his obligatory match programme) at around £100.
When I phoned him on Saturday night, he had made it back down as far as the M40. So, did he get value for money?
"Nowhere near," said Williams senior. "It was a terrible game with no atmosphere whatsoever. City played a weakened team, Middlesbrough's fans didn't seem to care about it, and neither did the players on both sides."
Middlesbrough and Manchester City take to the field at a thinly-populated Riverside Stadium
He spent most of his day admiring the weather in various parts of England during the journey, and had little time for the suggestion that the cold had put the majority of fans off.
"The weather seemed fairly normal in Middlesbrough, although the snow did get quite heavy going through the Midlands and Yorkshire. And they were playing a Premier League side who - in theory - are challenging for the top four.
"They've had two or three weeks since the last round to buy the tickets, and they didn't know then what the weather was going to be like today." (It is also worth noting that nearby Sunderland attracted 25,190 for their tie with lowly Barrow - nearly 5,000 more than the Black Cats got for Bolton's visit at this stage of last year's competition, even if Barrow were responsible for 8,000 away supporters this time around.)
"I knew the attendance would be low when I got there," he added. "I walked round the whole ground and didn't see more than about 30 or 40 people. There was just nobody there.
"I simply don't think the FA Cup means anything to anyone. I might have been mildly put out if we'd lost, but not that bothered. I'd have been considerably more bothered if we'd lost at Wolves, because the Premier League means a lot more than the FA Cup.
"The Cup has been devalued - not only do top teams field weakened line-ups, but so do teams like Newcastle, who made something like seven changes playing a team in the same division. Clubs at all levels don't take it seriously and neither do the players themselves."
Is this the natural consequence of shifting priorities? Top Premier League teams want to win European trophies, so managers, and players, lose heart when it comes to the domestic competitions. It's nice to win one, yes, but there will be no sleepless nights for the manager if his second string are turned over by some plucky lower-league outfit.
As a fan, you cotton on to your club's way of thinking. If you know your manager is going to rest key players and is treating the game as a sideshow, you think: well, maybe this is the day I rest me and go and do something else. After all, it's cold out, there are kids to entertain, New Year's hangovers to nurse and jobs to be done. If your team aren't taking it seriously, you won't either.
Smaller teams care when they get the chance to become giant-killers against the likes of Liverpool or Manchester United, so their fans care. But if an average Premier League side sends a weakened team out against another average Premier League side's reserves, the average Premier League fan will react accordingly.
A colleague cynically summed it up by asking, why drive from London to Middlesbrough and back, at great cost in time and money, to watch Benjani up front?
Did you go to one of the weekend's FA Cup games? Or did you decide to stay away because you had better things to do, and could use the money in the weeks after Christmas? Did the weather make a difference? And will FA Cup third round day, that great beacon in the football calendar, ever again command the attention it once did?