Now I know I previously made the request that we cut them some slack, I want to make it clear that I am not advocating you cut them too much.
Just as I don't want to see 1st level PCs placed in inescapable death traps that have an army of Slaads* waiting outside just in case they do get out, I don't want to imply that we (GMs) shoould go too easy on them either.
Finding a happy balance between challenging and exceedingly deadly can be tricky. With my old groups and my Jersey group I know where that balance lies, although I also know they can surprise me quite often. This dynamic has developed over years and years and it's no wonder we are so in synch when it comes to play style.
When gaming with my newer NY group I originally went a bit too easy on them. As time went on, I realized they played (or were used to playing) a far more mechanical game in some aspects. This meant that they knew how to get the most out of the rules and were therefore extremely effective in combat but when it came to using the players' noggins to figure things out or their role playing skills to gain some assistance or knowledge from NPCs, some of them were a little out of their element.
One size doesn't fit all and what proves troublesome for one group may be a breeze for the next. The GM should, IMO, observe and review various activities in his or her game to determine what works best. 'Best' for what you say? Well, in my case, the best way to provide a challenge to the Players and their characters that doesn't necessarily result in death...but could. The more likely outcome is injury, hurt pride and the villain gaining some advantage. If said advantage makes the next encounter with the villain more difficult and truly deadly so be it. Live...or not so much...and learn.