If the hope for these interim months was that Manchester United might tread water before rescue, then the reality is they look an awful lot like a club slipping further beneath the waves.
With each passing game, the disparity between what Ralf Rangnick sees and what he is capable of fixing grows. If that rings as a criticism of his work at Old Trafford, then it should be balanced against recognition that he is operating in a structure rigged for failure by United’s busted recruitment system.
To hear him in the aftermath of Saturday’s draw with Leicester, a game contested flimsily by United, was to hear a manager with a number of plausible answers and a longing for his employers to allow the next guy, Erik ten Hag or otherwise, to implement them sensibly.
Increasingly, that new manager looks likely to be charged with getting United back into the top four, because lately there has been little to suggest Rangnick can bridge the gap to Arsenal in his final eight games.
Based on their form of the past two months, in which they have won only three of eight in the league and gone out of both Europe and the FA Cup, getting as high as fifth might have to be termed a more obtainable target.