There has been talk of a protest at Brunton Park today. If recent and indeed immediate history is a guide, it might not be something that taxes the Carlisle United hierarchy too much.

Yesterday's rather farcical online happenings, with bogus claims of bans and hacked Twitter accounts, suggest we will probably be able to file this afternoon's events with others that left little mark.

There is a short but consistent history of such things. Back in March 2017, a small cluster of fans stood outside the ground with banners and bedsheets before the visit of Luton Town. Andrew Jenkins and Nigel Clibbens came outside to speak to a few members of the disgruntled group.

In terms of direct action, it rather fizzled out from there. A small boy feigned to kick Clibbens as he turned back towards the main entrance but the chief executive, to give him his due, stayed on his feet. If only there was more honesty like that in the game.

In August 2018, another gathering was organised before the home fixture against Northampton Town. Not many showed up and the afternoon passed without the stadium’s foundations rattling with mutiny.

Other one-off protests of differing style have been seen – the fancy dress “billionaires” of October 2015, the fan who was forcibly frogmarched from the Paddock six months later for some salty language – but open dissent has generally been brief and limited.

An anti-board banner appeared in the Warwick Road End last weekend, and there were some chants against the regime. There has also been enough, in recent weeks, to lead Clibbens to express the club’s concern about “rising cases” of “fan behaviour” incidents.

The sense remains, though, that sentiment about the current state of things at Brunton Park lacks the agreed focus, mass appeal and viable roadmap that would lift it from relatively low levels and to a place where many more would join up.

A point made in this column a few weeks ago, that United have a range of supporter bodies but not a single, unifying one that can bond fans in good times and bad, is still relevant - though another putative group, named Unita Fortior, is emerging with a broader scope in mind - and it remains to be seen whether the invitation for the disillusioned to bring tennis balls and whatnot to the ground today will lead to any sort of message owners might respect - or whether it will simply create nuisance (costly nuisance, Clibbens has stressed) or, quite possibly, even less.

News and Star: Directors: There is still little obvious progress on the "succession" takeover sagaDirectors: There is still little obvious progress on the "succession" takeover saga

Those at the top of Brunton Park may feel they can head off the worst of things with detailed statements pointing out the risks, along with assurance that forums like CUSG are where feelings on the present and future of Carlisle United can be properly expressed. The decline in credibility of this latest protest, the longer yesterday went on, also won't have ratcheted up many fears at the boardoom table.

It would, though, be foolish to pay no heed at all to some of the views being aired in whatever form. If much of the frustration about United right now is voiced online, a small protest, even the suggestion of it, can be seen as an overspill of that to some degree.

The broad feeling, shared by people who do not necessarily agree with the use of banners and sporting equipment, remains one of concern and frustration, and we are back here again to the elephant in the room when it comes to United’s proud reputation for “fan engagement”.

The Blues’ output on their general operations is decent and detailed. There cannot be a chief executive in the game who conveys information more comprehensively than Clibbens.

Gatherings like CUSG are laudable. At times more facts are put forward than one knows what to do with. This deserves praise, not scorn.

And yet. There’s that elephant, bellowing away. The club rated second best in the land for “fan engagement” cannot truly engage on the topics that matter most: namely, what on earth is going on when it comes to ownership, debt, succession?

CUOSC, the supporters’ trust, have said in as many words that they are tiptoeing on eggshells when it comes to speaking about United’s debt, the source of it (Philip Day’s Edinburgh Woollen Mill, and subsequently Purepay) and the need for resolution. Getting substantive comment from the owners about the big picture is akin to standing outside the Vatican and asking if the main resident fancies a pint.

Clibbens yesterday sought to assure the public that their feelings are fully acknowledged at Holdings board level. Yet, up to press, people still don’t know what they are being asked to believe in. They are deprived of material reason for long-term optimism, a stated destination before boarding the train.

News and Star: Many United fans, whether protesting or not, are concerned about the big pictureMany United fans, whether protesting or not, are concerned about the big picture

Keith Millen's early work on the pitch has been encouraging and deserves support. The questions, though, sail above team matters. Who truly calls the shots at Carlisle right now? What is the direction of travel regarding takeover? What is the best-case scenario being mapped out? How much of a problem, exactly, is that debt – and how is it proposed to be addressed?

Who will, or is likely to, own the Blues in a few months’ time? Who is setting the strategy, attending to the stadium question, making deliverable plans or engaging in visionary discussions with people who can make them?

If CUOSC’s tightrope implication is accurate, what is so exceptional about those at or near the controls that supporters can’t get anywhere near a credible set of explanations about what they are being asked to “get behind”? Who is served by any flexing of muscles at a time United are engaged in a long and difficult battle to remain a Football League club?

Who, at that rarefied level, is accountable to whom?

It is because of this palette of questions that United’s other “fan engagement” bounces off rather more than club bosses would like; because of these critical areas that other sincere work does not cut fully through. It is why complaints remain, whatever your view on balls and banners and protests that rise or absurdly perish.

What’s the big idea at Carlisle United? Until that’s a sight clearer, people will continue coming up with their own.