Barcelona have shown that having the best players in the world is useless if those in the boardroom cannot match the exploits of those on the pitch.
The Catalan giants have gone from being the envy of the world to the laughing stock of Spain in less than five years. Most of the players who led the team to its golden age - winning two Champions League crowns - remain in the squad. However, the board has changed. That's the sole difference, but it is crucial.
Back in 2010 Sandro Rosell was elected president of the club following the departure of Joan Laporta. Rosell had been previously worked as Laporta's vice-president, but after their relationship fell apart he decided to contest the presidency himself. Once Rosell was elected president he tried to prove his worth by undoing all the major decisions Laporta had made, no matter the consequences.
He inherited a winning club with the best player in the world – Messi - the best coach – Pep Guardiola – and the best youth academy – the prestigious La Masia – and transformed it into misery.
First, Rosell and his board did everything in their power to end Guardiola's era. And they got what they wanted. Then they focused on repeating the trick with Messi. And they are about to get their wish again.
In between, Rosell was forced to resign as president last year after it was proved Neymar cost almost the double the figure originally quoted by the Camp Nou board – around £44m. He also left his successor, Josep Maria Bartomeu, with a timebomb; La Masia had breached Fifa rules on signing international players under the age of 18, an infraction which has just been punished with a two-window transfer ban.
Bartomeu, who took charge after Rosell's departure without being elected by the club members, has failed to improve the situation. In fact he has done the opposite. After a disappointing season without silverware under Gerardo Martino, he attempted to paper over the cracks with money – spending a club-record sum on Luis Suarez, Thomas Vermaelen, Jeremy Mathieu, Ivan Rakitic, Douglas, Claudio Bravo and Marc Andre Ter Stegen.
But the first part of the campaign has proved once again that what is wrong is not the players but the board, starting with Bartomeu himself. Amid the crisis generated by the latest defeat to Real Sociedad and a reported rift between Messi and manager Luis Enrique, Bartomeu, rather than fall on his sword, decided to sack the oft-criticised sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta.
Barcelona fans have constantly pointed to Zubizarreta as one of those most culpable for the present situation, while Real Madrid supporters considered him a blessing. Last summer he passed on the chance to sign Toni Kross, but decided that long-term injury Vermaelen was the perfect addition to Barca's defensive roster.
Given that Zubizarreta previously signed several players who failed to make an impact at the Camp Nou - including Cesc Fabregas, Alexis Sanchez and Alex Song – while letting Thiago Alcantara move to Bayern Munich, his defenestration would have been viewed as a major step forward in another time. But, given the current situation, one sacrifice is not enough.
Barcelona fans now demand something else. But we are now in the middle of the campaign, so their only hope is to trust in the goals of Messi, Neymar and Suarez and hope they finish the season with some semblance of respectability, for Bartomeu finally accepts his failure and holds new presidential elections in this summer.