Painful memories of Premier League away days came to mind as Watford were totally outplayed as they went down 3-0 to Leeds United at Elland Road.

The fact it took Leeds more than an hour to get in front was purely down to a string of excellent saves from Dan Bachmann, who began his one-man crusade to earn a point in the third minute and kept the home side at bay for a further 63 minutes.

The home side’s squad may have lost a few names from last season’s Premier League campaign, but such was their control of the game and possession of the ball that it was easy to recall those countless away trips a couple of seasons ago when Watford were the mouse and the hosts were the cat that either killed us quickly, or toyed with us for a while before putting us out of our misery.

To be frank, Watford were never in this game, at any point. The home side started on the front foot, played on the front foot and ended the game on the front foot.

They fully deserved to win by three, and the only slither of consolation was that they didn’t start scoring earlier otherwise it could have been a heavier defeat.

The 4-3-3 just didn’t look able to stem the Leeds tide, the high press wasn’t there and Watford were scrambling around for scraps of possession.

But for Bachmann, the game could have been done and dusted by half-time, and once Leeds broke his resistance they quickly added another one – some statuesque defending from Watford at a corner there.

After that it was a case of if Leeds fancied any more, and they added another late on to give the final score a sense of their dominance.

The home side had 17 goal attempts, Watford had four: the only one of those that was on target arrived in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

It was a chastening afternoon, and a reminder that the rebuild that seems to be happening on and off the field has plenty of work to do in order to get the club back to a level it almost took for granted only a few short seasons ago.

If there was a positive it was that at least the Hornets players showed some spirit and doggedness. Last season, this game would indeed have been over by half-time such was the lack of any character in the squad.

But it’s also a stark sign to the players that they will have to be on the very top of their game against the best of the Championship if they don’t want to spend further afternoons trapped in their final third and only seeing the opposition keeper in the pre-game handshakes.

There were two changes from the team that started against West Brom, with Ryan Andrews and Jamal Lewis coming at full-backs.

The pattern for the first half was set early on as the home side pushed Watford back and the game was largely played in the Hornets’ half.

There were only three minutes on the clock when Bachmann made a superb diving save to deny Ethan Ampadu, and the keeper excelled again three minutes later when Dan James clipped the ball into the box and Georgino Rutter was unmarked.

The striker tried to guide his shot round the Austrian stopper, but Bachmann managed to get off his line quickly and push it away.

The first 20 minutes were painfully one-sided with Leeds enjoying more than 70% possession.

Watford did get out of their half more as the game wore on, but they didn’t register an on-target effort at goal.

In contrast Bachmann was to the rescue again in the 26th minute when Rutter set Crysencio Summerville free in the box on the left. He skipped to his left as a challenge came in, but the Watford keeper palmed away his goalbound shot.

The Hornets’ skipper then grasped a rising effort from Summerville before the home side were screaming for a penalty when Jamal Lewis nudged James in the box, but referee Mr Simpson waved them away.

Remarkably it was goalless at the break and Valerien Ismael made three changes, sending on Vakoun Bayo, Tom Dele-Bashiru and Edo Kayembe, switching to 3-5-2.

It made very little difference to the pattern of the game though.

It was turning into Leeds v Bachmann as the Watford keeper dived to hold a low shot from Summerville in the 57th minutes after the Leeds man had got past Porteous.

However, in the 66th minute, Leeds finally went ahead. James took on Hoedt down the left, steadied himself and then centred for Piroe to score at the back post after he had got ahead of Sierralta.

Three minutes later and the game was pretty much over. Watford’s zonal marking at corners allowed Sam Byram to run between two yellow shirts and beat Bachmann with a powerful header.

It took Watford until the 76th minute to have a serious attempt at goal, and even then it was very tame as Asprilla crossed for fellow sub Bayo to hit the ball down into the ground and wide.

It was all still Leeds and in the 86th minute substitute Jaidon Anthony skipped past Porteous, checked inside but curled a shot straight at Bachmann.

Watford’s only goal attempt that required saving came four minutes into stoppage time when Giorgi Chakvetadze cut in from the left and saw his firmly-struck shot pushed over the bar.

After the game, head coach Valerien Ismael said goalkeeper Ben Hamer was left out of the matchday squad after being late for a team meeting.

Watford: Bachmann; Andrews, Porteous, Hoedt, Lewis (Chakvetadze 79); Sierralta; Louza (Asprilla 67), Kone (Dele-Bashiru 45); Ince (Bayo 45), Rajovic, Martins (Kayembe 45). Subs: Roberts, Ngakia, Pollock, Morris