A month into the season there seemed no prospect whatsoever Chester FC would be in the relegation picture with 15 games to go.
From six matches in August, the Blues registered three wins, two draws and a single defeat, and Ben Heneghan's red card after 24 minutes mitigated for that.
Chester entered September in seventh place and there had been nothing to suggest this was a team that was going to struggle.
But a campaign that began with such promise has veered badly off-course and this week could be pivotal in determining how this season pans out.
Without question, defeats at Altrincham on Tuesday and Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday will leave the Blues in serious trouble.
On the other hand, two victories will take Chester on to 41 points, which with 13 matches to go would put them within comfortable reach of a safe total.
It's difficult to understand how early season talk of top-half finishes and play-off bids has been replaced with that of safety targets and survival.
It wasn't supposed to be like this and nor should it be.
This is a squad with talent and one that through pre-season and in those opening weeks looked well capable of matching what was achieved in 2014-15.
Jon Worsnop: an experienced number one and an accomplished shot-stopper. His mistakes have been punished, as often happens with keepers, but we know from last season he has the character to respond.
The defence includes Ben Heneghan, one of the division's most talented centre-backs, the promising Ryan Astles and Ian Sharps, with more than 500 games in the Football League to his name. Left-back Johnny Hunt has arguably been the most consistent performer and Ryan Higgins showed last term what a threat he can be on the opposite side.
Midfield, perhaps the area that has caused most headaches this season, appears to have everything required: Luke George was a sought-after holding midfielder, Tom Shaw knows the division inside out and when on song John Rooney can be a match-winner. Out wide Craig Mahon and Jordan Chapell have the pace and skill to trouble defences, while Ryan Lloyd has been a smart addition on loan.
Up front Ross Hannah was brought in to be a 20-goal striker, a mission he's well on course to accomplish. He has lacked support but new signing James Alabi has the pedigree to address that.
The individual components are there but collectively the team isn't functioning and hasn't done for some time: this is a Chester side that doesn't add up to the sum of its parts.
Hindsight is of little use in football because the past is the past and the fact is there was near universal agreement in the summer the squad had been improved.
It's impossible to pinpoint a particular game where things unravelled or single out a reason for the drop off in performances and results.
And this isn't the time to finger-point or apportion blame because the Blues have two massive games this week and a united front is needed.
There's undoubted pressure on the squad to deliver and the players and management will be feeling as nervous as the supporters about the current situation, particularly with teams below them closing in.
But this is an opportunity for them too: a chance to redeem themselves, a chance to repair reputations and a chance to restore faith.
Forget what's happened, these players have the ability to get out of this position and Tuesday night is the time for them to prove it.