It’s around this time most years that Chelsea’s Premier League-title backers who have been strolling around all autumn with Cheshire cat grins look down to realise they are starkers.
Four points clear after seven games in 2012/13, top by as many points after as many games in 2010/11 and first on goal difference after septet of fixtures in 2008/09.
Not one of the aforementioned campaigns yielded the trophy their backers might have assumed was in the bank.
Those investing in the Blues to end up top the heap this term at 53/100 are either cruelly mislead Emperors of their own bwin.com accounts or possessed of an uncommon bravery.
Far more alluring is the 7/5 that they won’t win the division, a wager that encompasses the collective wills of Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal, to name but three.
Firstly injuries to either Cesc Fabregas or Diego Costa would see their effectiveness hampered to a usurpable extent.
The former has set up a third of their total league strikes, while Costa has notched virtually half of their goals in the division.
Remove either, particularly Fabregas, from the picture and they are arguably weaker than the side that bottled the title last term.
Then there’s the rusting edifice know as José Mário dos Santos Mourinho Félix, OIH (Order of Prince Henry) who is at the beginning of the slow erosion of mystique that Arsene Wenger has been experiencing for the last decade.
Since his Estadio do Dragao saladays the Portuguese has been accumulating silverware faster than a Magpie schooled at a seminar on the subject presented by both Fagin and the Artful Dodger.
Yet it’s now two seasons since he picked up so much as a Mickey Mouse medal, let alone a consolation cup.
Could it be his once light-years-ahead methods are not as indecipherable as they once were?
The signs are there in the form of an increased defensive fragility that has seen them concede almost twice as many goals as they had by this stage in 2013/14.
Last term they came away from Manchester City with a 1-0 win – this season they couldn’t stop the Citizens from scoring even with a man advantage.
Meanwhile Burnley, Everton and Swansea have dined out at the Blue buffet.