HERE’S a summer pub quiz question.

What’s the connection between Her Majesty The Queen, Sir Ben Ainsley, ex-Saints player Adam Lallana and a lightweight bridge?

Answer: they have all featured in this week’s news and all say something about Southampton’s state of mind and future potential.

Her Majesty today travels to Glasgow to officially name her new super aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth the Second.

The massive warship, the largest the Royal Navy has ever built, has been put together on the Clyde after initially being constructed here on the Solent, at BAE’s shipyard in Portsmouth.

Attending the ceremony, no doubt, will be several representatives from Southampton. This city was once the home of VT, now BAE, and many of the workforce that built QE2 travelled from Southampton to continue their roles.

The naming ceremony, then, is poignant in that it marks the final beginning of the end for ship building for Southampton, in more ways than one.

The former VT site in Woolston, we learned this week, is the subject of a bid by the City Council for £50m of Government funds to establish a world-beating Composites Centre.

If successful the development would bring in jobs and new skills for the region, building on Southampton’s growing reputation for high-end technology, centred at present on Southampton University.

Yet, as this paper commented this week, while news of the bid is to be welcomed, we have not won the day yet. What’s more, the proposal also appears to lay to rest hopes that the waterside site would be returned to shipbuilding.

This is a pity. Southampton is not blessed with too many such sites, and if Southampton has one unique factor in its armoury it is its links to the sea.

While a composite industry – essentially the creation and development of materials for the next generation of bridges, pipes, aircraft and, yes, boats – would be an important addition to the overall industrial landscape, it is not sea-facing.

What is sea-facing, in all senses, is the multi-million-pound venture now about to take shape in rival Portsmouth to create and build vessels to win the America’s Cup.

And this week Sir Ben Ainslie travelled to Number 10 to receive the blessing of the Prime Minister and the nod for a £7.5m grant towards the scheme.

With him went Tory Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage, Tory Portsmouth MP Penny Mordaunt and Tory Minister for Portsmouth Michael Fallon.

Anyone would think the Tories had their eye on capturing the other Portsmouth Parliamentary seat from the Lib Dems at the coming General Election – or is that being too cynical of me?

Certainly talk from Southampton City Council leaders of a lastminute raid to grab the America’s Cup glory and super-yacht building jobs and skills for us look now like naive posturing. The forces assembled against such an ambition were always, it seems, formidable.

And this is worrying. For in the beginning Southampton thought it had the Ben Ainslie bid in the bag.

Portsmouth, it now appears obvious, had other ideas.

Now, the talk in some quarters is that Southampton is a shoe-in for the £50m grant and the composite site as compensation.

I would not be so certain. The other bidders include our old rival Liverpool as well as Plymouth and Derby. On recent form I would not count any of them out of the running – Derby because it needs a heart-of-Britain fillip and Plymouth because it is also a sea port but, one that has not been blessed with much good news of late.

Our biggest rival, however, is likely to be our old enemy Liverpool. Fresh from success in the so-called Port Wars over cruise ships, it has proved its fighting credentials.

The Prime Minister was there recently, waxing lyrical over its new container port. Liverpool is a fighter, and to its bootstraps.

Which brings me to ex-Saints player Alan Lallana and his move there this week under something of a cloud. Although expected, it was the manner of his departure for some Southampton fans that upset.

Reports the player had issued an ultimatum to his old club to let him go riled.

A paid-for advert in this paper from the former Saints captain saying cheerio and thanks didn’t cut it with some, even though the £20m boost for Saints’ war chest won’t go amiss.

Liverpool have their man, as well as their cruise industry and container port.

On several fronts, then, Southampton appears to have been outsmarted and outplayed by the opposition.

The solution?

We should seek no special treatment, we should not gripe, but we should man up and play hard. There are seldom any prizes for coming second in this tough world.