The paper Wisniewski-Barker E et al (2013 New J. Phys. 15 083020) is intended to distinguish experimentally between two mechanisms of pulse delay in ruby and to provide evidence in favor of the slow-light model. The proposed test is based on the idea of monitoring time delay of a ‘dark pulse’ or ‘intensity null’, rather than that of some Gaussian-like pulse. We show that, because of certain experimental inconsistencies, the results of the measurements do not allow one to prefer one of the models and, thus, are interpreted inadequately. In this comment, we propose and realize a simple modification of the experiment Wisniewski-Barker E et al (2013 New J. Phys. 15 083020), which allows us to unambiguously resolve this dilemma. We show that the effect of pulse delay in ruby is perfectly described by the simple model of pulse reshaping and does not require invoking the coherent population oscillation-based slow-light effects.