Pep Guardiola has admitted that Manchester City's title defence is already over even before the turn of the New Year.
His side have already been beaten five times - more defeats than the entirety of last season - in the Catalan's worst-ever start in his 11 years as a manager.
But what has gone wrong for a club that produced the two greatest campaigns in the history of English football?
No replacement for Kompany
When a tearful Vincent Kompany said farewell to the Etihad Stadium after 11 years, the Belgian defender left a huge hole at the club.
His presence as a leader, both on and off the pitch, is comparable to the influence of the great captains at any of the successful clubs in the Premier League era.
David Silva took the armband and while the Spaniard is tigerish and receives huge respect from his team-mates, replacing Kompany's command was virtually impossible.
Replacing Kompany's presence on the pitch with an in-house solution was deemed more achievable but City's decision not to sign a defender has proven to be a major error.
The champions chased Leicester's Harry Maguire during the summer but pulled out when they felt the transfer fee got too expensive and he left for neighbours United instead.
A serious injury to Aymeric Laporte has compounded a lack of cover, resulting in City keeping just one clean sheet since October.
Injuries take their toll
City have been without £200 million worth of talent this season, with serious injuries to Laporte and Leroy Sane alone. Those are two players that would walk into any team on the planet.
Laporte's absence has been most keenly felt, with his organisational work and intelligent passing missed as much as his defensive capabilities. But being without Sane has also cut short Guardiola's ability to rotate his attacking options.
However, it's not just those two that have been missed.
John Stones could have lessened the impact of Laporte's absence but he has missed more than half of City's Premier League matches because of a thigh injury.
Oleksandr Zinchenko has been out for much of the season with a knee injury while Sergio Aguero, Rodri and David Silva have all missed chunks of the campaign. Ederson also suffered a slight setback that forced him out of the crucial trip to Liverpool.
High standards are hard to match
Guardiola's side set a ridiculously high standard in their two title-winning campaigns.
City rewrote the record books as they won the Premier League with a record 100 points in the Catalan's first title success and then registered the second-highest tally a year later.
That second success was particularly gruelling with Liverpool's incessant challenge meaning the champions had to win their final 14 matches last season to hold off Jurgen Klopp's side by a point.
Guardiola demands a lot from his players and even he admits it can be difficult to go again.
There has been a perception around the club that a number of VAR decisions have gone against them since its introduction.
Guardiola has now reached the point where he won't discuss VAR judgements - even when they go in City's favour as they did in the defeat to Wolves.
However a week earlier, the City boss couldn't help revealing that he was still seething that a Gabriel Jesus winner against Tottenham four months earlier was ruled out because of a handball.
In the defeat at Anfield, Guardiola was apoplectic when two decisions went against his side. When the ball struck Trent Alexander-Arnold's arm in the box, no penalty was awarded and 22 seconds later, Liverpool had scored the opener.
Guardiola also felt his side should have had penalties against Spurs and Bournemouth and then questioned the decision to award a penalty for what he saw as a dive by Sadio Mane in Liverpool's win over Leicester.
It's all added to a mistrust in the technology and belief that decisions are made on an ad hoc basis rather than a set standard.
New signings not making an impact
City spent close to £100m on new signings in the summer but they have so far failed to seriously raise the quality of the side.
Rodri was someone that Guardiola particularly wanted and he eventually joined from Atletico Madrid for a club-record £62.8m fee.
He was likened to Sergio Busquets, Guardiola's pivotal holding midfielder at Barca, but so far he has found it difficult to make an impact.
New signings can often take time to adjust to playing in a Guardiola side - just as Bernardo Silva did before he hit the heights. But Rodri has had a long run in the side, partly because Fernandinho has been forced into a centre-back role.
Elsewhere, it was hoped that Joao Cancelo would give serious competition to Kyle Walker at right-back but has so far failed to do so, while Angelino has found the step up from PSV tough.
Silvas failing to shine
Guardiola believed that Bernardo Silva was last season's player of the year after his stunning impact in City's treble-winning campaign.
He then added to that in the summer when he was player of the tournament in Portugal's success at the Nations League finals.
But he has suffered a hangover in the opening months of the season, not helped by an ill-advised tweet to Benjamin Mendy that caused controversy for weeks and saw him given a one-match ban.
His namesake David has also lost some of his powers in what will be his final year at the club.
The Spaniard has been arguably the Premier League's player of the decade and is seen by many as the greatest to ever wear a City shirt.
But after 10 years of immaculate service, the 33-year-old hasn't been able to match his usual brilliance in the first half of this campaign.
No let-up from Liverpool
The Reds have never won a Premier League title and never went closer than last season when they were pipped by a point.
Indeed their total of 97 points would have seen them win the title in every season apart from Guardiola's two triumphs.
A Champions League success in June was a nice consolation and the first major trophy of Klopp's reign has given them the belief that they can go one better in the Premier League.
So far, Liverpool have been almost unstoppable, dropping just two points in a remarkable first half of the season.
While City's levels have dropped, 38 points from 19 matches would see them firmly in title races in Spain, Germany and France. But in England, Liverpool's form means their challenge is essentially over before it's begun.