After filling the role as the Premier League's clichéd surprise package last season, Newcastle United have rocketed back to earth with a bump, with the club 14th, with 14 points from 14 games, having scored 14 goals.
Arguably, a downturn in the club's fortunes was expected after a season during which Newcastle finished above Champions League winners Chelsea and with barely half the season completed, in depth criticism may be interpreted as knee-jerk rather than wholly relevant.
But with the Toon on the same amount of points as they were when they relegated in the 2008/09 campaign, there is perhaps good reason to not only be concerned at their rapid decline but also analyse just why such a fall from grace has occurred.
Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba's varying wavelength
Billed as a striking partnership with new bounds of telepathy, both Ba and Cisse have been operating in different time zones since the latter's move to the north-east in the January transfer window.
Alan Pardew's accommodation of Hatem Ben Arfa on the right of a front three has forced both parts of the Senegalese pair out of position, and such is the duo's limited contribution in Newcastle's build-up play, games either side of the summer have simply passed them by. Only twice have both players scored in the same game.
Even when rarely both permitted to spearhead the attack, the similarities of the two form no basis of a partnership, with Pardew himself admitting he feels tactically challenged to get the best out of Ba and Cisse. Playing Shola Ameobi off one of the pair has instead produced their best performances.
The Liability that is Cheik Tiote
A total of 33 bookings and three red cards in his 64 match Newcastle career tells its own story, but in Tiote's first two seasons, where his disciplinary record was just as fierce, his influence hadn't wavered as it has this season.
Perhaps an indication of his diminishing impact this season can be found in the timing of his first offence, with the tendency to not commit to tackles after picking up an initial yellow card. While his first two seasons saw the average time of his first booking at 58 minutes (2010/11) and 50 minutes (2011/12), this term's average is already at 49 minutes after just 12 games.
The Ivory Coast midfielder's strike-rate this season already in terms of bookings has been particularly alarming, and while he remains one of the club's most important players, he's rapidly becoming a luxury asset rather than reliable.
Yohan Cabaye's injury woe
Amid the concerns over Ba and Cisse's form together, and Tiote's indiscipline, Cabaye has quickly become the club's most important player simply by virtue of the fact he is the most irreplaceable.
The France international has already missed as many league games this season as he did in the entire of last and with that chasm in the Toon midfield, the club have picked up only a point. Without Cabaye, Newcastle are finding working the ball through midfield a tougher ask and thus are prone to going long, earlier, towards their Senegalese strikers.
Bad Luck in Wear-Tyne Derby
If Newcastle's performances have been worthy of no reward for much of this season, the exception came in the Wear-Tyne derby at the Stadium of Light. With Tiote having been (wrongly) dismissed, and Cabaye having already gifted Pardew's side the lead, Newcastle sat in and even provided the greater threat against a blunt Sunderland side.
But lady luck shone on the Black Cats as John O'Shea's off-target header ricocheted off Ba and beyond Tim Krul. it was an equaliser the hosts barely deserved, and a painful end to a derby in which Newcastle had given so much and more significantly had a potentially season changing result snatched away. Just one league win has followed.
Persisting with 4-3-3
It's no secret that the formation which the majority of teams have struck on this season is 4-2-3-1, with everyone from Arsenal to Stoke City adopting the formation which allows fluidity and defensive steal. Everyone it seems except Newcastle, who under Alan Pardew have kept loyal to the 4-3-3 formation which gave them so much success last season.
It leaves the side outnumbered in all areas of the pitch and has contributed to a string of performances which has seen them barely get a kick. Selection problems a side, Pardew is setting his team up without a hope.