Though there had been what many will see as a strong show of support for manager David Flitcroft during the week, there was a feeling of trepidation inside Oakwell ahead of kick-off.
Just two wins all season prior to this game was a hugely disappointing return for Flitcroft’s men.
There was a lovely touch with Reds legend Norman Rimmington leading the team out the day after his 90th birthday, but once the serious stuff got under way it was the hosts who threatened first.
Pedersen charged purposefully to try and latch on to a long Wiseman ball, only for goalkeeper Randolph to run out of his box and clear.
Birmingham striker Zigic saw an early shot blocked but Barnsley had begun on the front foot and Tudgay looped in a header which Randolph had little trouble saving.
But disaster was to strike after 13 minutes. Blues defender CADDIS was allowed too much time, breezed past a woeful challenge from Perkins, before burying a low shot into the corner of the net from 20 yards.
Birmingham now had a spring in their step, with loan-man Lingard looking particularly threatening.
Novak went close for the visitors and the Reds’ predicament got worse after 21 minutes when Birmingham scored again with a contentious penalty-kick was awarded, after Zigic had gone down threatrically following what did look like a shove from M’voto, but referee Mr Wright had no doubts.
Up stepped right-back CADDIS to coolly slot home his second goal as a chorus of boos rang around three sides of Oakwell.
Confidence looked to have been drained out of the players, with even ‘keeper Butland being guilty of a couple of dismal regulation clearances.
Birmingham almost made it three in the 32nd minute.Defensive midfielder Adeyemi was afforded bags of time and space in the Reds’ box, though the brave M’voto slid in to block a powerful shot.
The home fans were crying out for the introduction of Cywka from the bench, but Flitcroft continued to stand firm.
The cries from the terraces became much more vicious after Birmingham bagged their third goal after 37 minutes with another woeful strike from a Barnsley point of view.
Looking to make a simple back-pass to Butland, O’Brien flicked the ball shockingly into the path of ZIGIC, who ran through the middle before lifting a deft shot over the keeper and into the net.
It was difficult to see Barnsley recovering from this miserable first half.
Adeyemi fired in a shot but Butland was steady this time as he held the effort well.
The Reds finally showed signs of life, with Pedersen latching on to Tudgay’s cross, but glancing a header well wide.
It had been a nightmare first period but the Reds had the final word with Dawson firing narrowly wide and M’voto heading Kennedy’s corner over.
Flitcroft made a double change at the break with O’Brien and Perkins being replaced by Cywka and Mellis.
It didn’t make too much of a difference early on, though McCourt had the first chance of the second period when his shot was bravely blocked by Robinson.
Cywka fired in a well-struck free-kick from a tight angle which Randolph pushed behind for a corner-kick, before the Reds thought they had finally scored just before the hour mark.
Cywka got a touch to a thunderous effort from Kennedy, only for a linesman’s flag to curtail the hosts’ celebrations.
In between the Barnsley efforts, Novak found space, but fired straight at Butland.
At least the Reds were enjoying the better of it in the second half, but still they needed to be more clinical.
Dawson fired in a shot which Randolph comfortably saved, while Cywka did likewise, though this time the keeper kept the effort out at the second attempt.
Blues’ loan star Lingard had been a threat throughout, though, and he smashed a strike inches over the top as the visitors went close to rubbing salt in the Reds’ already gaping wounds.
The match had long been over, but still the Reds tried to grab that late consolation, with Cywka firing another free-kick just over the top.