WERE it not for comical defending, you could focus purely on the positives.

All right, this 3-1 pre-season defeat against League Two Rotherham United was never the sort of thing you would be watching endless re-runs of on DVD, even if the result had gone in the Minstermen’s favour.

But Martin Foyle’s back four committed footballing suicide in the second half and, three moments of madness aside, there was enough to indicate that – in the attacking sphere – City could pack a bigger punch than last year.

That ill-starred team found it difficult to string a couple of passes together, let alone manufacture the guile to regularly cut open opposition defences. Foyle’s 2009/10 contingent might be different.

Andy Ferrell’s goal, a minute after the break, was superb – Michael Rankine chesting a free-kick into the path of the midfielder, who drilled a low shot past former City goalkeeper Andy Warrington into the bottom right-hand corner.

If that was great, then it’s probably best to block out Tom Pope’s 56th-minute equaliser, poked home after some frankly awful defending.

Andy McWilliams’ own goal, with some 20 minutes left, was the kind of thing that gets you reaching for the valium and Kevin Ellison’s point-blank header with seven minutes left set the seal on a poor second half for City’s back four.

It took the sheen entirely off what was a bright first hour.

Ferrell was a busy and industrious presence in midfield and, in winger Adam Smith, City have the key player who can prise open the lock.

Smith, having recovered from the ankle knock picked up against Hartlepool, was involved early as City looked to use his blistering pace down the right-hand side.

His smart cross on seven minutes, after good interplay with Richard Brodie, was only just behind Rankine.

Blunt force was more effective for Rotherham and, on 13 minutes, Michael Ingham got down well to parry Ian Sharps’ goalward bound header from a United free-kick.

David McGurk then spared Daniel Parslow’s blushes when clearing Pablo Mills’ header over the bar after the City skipper felled Paul Warne with a clumsy challenge on the edge of the box.

But when Smith got hold of the ball, City always looked threatening.

Just after the half hour, Ferrell broke up play on the left-hand side and Brodie fed the winger.

Smith teased out wide and then flicked a pass back to Brodie in the centre – the former Newcastle Benfield striker curling his shot just wide of Warrington’s far post.

York’s passing was neat and it was incisive, culminating in that superb Ferrell strike.

Rankine should have doubled the lead barely a minute later when skewing his shot wide after turning Warrington and Brodie forced a tip-over save from the former City net-minder from 20 yards.

Then Foyle’s back four went mad. The surface was greasy but City had chances to clear before Pope got his foot there first for Rotherham’s opener – leaving Ingham furious.

Worse blushes were to come. Andy McWilliams had already spared them when managing to partially block Pope’s strike on the edge of the area but, from the next attacking move, the defender turned a speculative cross past the stranded Ingham.

And Ellison simply could not miss when presented with a simple header and no-one but the City ’keeper anywhere near him.

York City: Michael Ingham, Alex Lawless (Simon Russell 82), David McGurk (Alan O’Hare 46), Daniel Parslow, James Meredith (Andy McWilliams 64), Adam Smith (Ben Purkiss 46), Levi Mackin, Neil Barrett (Richard Pacquette 75), Andy Ferrell, Richard Brodie, Michael Rankine.

Subs not used: Josh Mimms, Jamie Jackson.

Rotherham United: Andy Warrington, Mark Lynch, Ian Sharps, Nick Fenton, Jamie Green, Jason Taylor, Nicky Law (Andy Liddle 72), Pablo Mills (Danny Harrison 64), Paul Warne (Wayne Gray 56), Kevin Ellison, Tom Pope.

Subs not used: Dale Tonge, Danny Harrison, Marc Joseph, Ryan Taylor, Andy Nicholas, Jamie Annerson.

Referee: Bobby Madley (Ossett).

Attendance: 758 (110 from Rotherham).