NEWCASTLE United have the next two weeks to contemplate what this woeful performance at Stoke has done, a fortnight to ponder the relegation battle they have thrown themselves into and to somehow work out how they are going to get out of it.
The Magpies were always going to be fighting for survival this season. If anything, they have over-achieved this season, staying clear of the relegation scrape for the vast majority of the campaign, even pushing themselves into European contention for a brief, surprising moment.
But it was always going to be where they ended up in May that mattered, and on current form they are in danger of allowing themselves to be dragged into the horrible mess below them.
Statistics can be used to illustrate so many different things, sometimes the same ones can even be manipulated to argue conflicting viewpoints.
For some, Newcastle have lost just three of their last ten games, for others they have won only one of those ten. At the very least they have been treading water while others have been on the move.
Two wins in 2011 is represents a depressing lack of a killer touch and both have come against teams, Birmingham City and West Ham, who are in and around the drop zone. The Magpies have been playing reasonably well up until now, they could well have won games they ended up drawing, but they were sluggish and slack at Stoke.
Bereft of a goal threat, lacking creative flair and width, shaky and error prone at the back. All the ingredients of a bad side. They certainly looked like one at the Britannia, although in truth they are better than this. Instead they are a decent side which has lost its way and that should be a major concern for manager Alan Pardew.
As often as they deny it, there is a suspicion some already believed they were safe, that satisfying mid-table mediocrity beckoned and summer holidays could be booked.
This was the painful reminder there is much work to be done before any summer breaks or recruitment drives can begin. Wolverhampton Wanderers are the next visitors to St James’ Park and for the first time since Sunderland rolled up and rolled over back in October, it is a must-win home game for the Magpies.
Win that and worries will ease, there will be no need for panic. Lose and all those painful, sickening memories of the spring of 2009 will come flooding back and the flood gates will open on the manager and his players. Newcastle never got going against a Stoke side riding the crest of an FA Cup semi-final wave.