Chelsea may be unbeaten in 12 Premier League games under Guus Hiddink, but their failure to overcome Stoke at Stamford Bridge last weekend surely saw any last vestiges of hope they could still qualify for the Champions League left behind.
The Blues are now nine points behind fourth place Manchester City, who are 53/100 to win their game in hand against a Norwich side who have taken one point from their last nine games.
As long as 20/1 for a top-four finish, it is time for the club to begin readying itself for life without top-tier continental competition next season, but what can they expect.
In recent years Liverpool and Manchester United have both dropped out of the Champions League after lengthy spells of consecutive qualification and, while their subsequent travails are hardly reassuring, they do offer some interesting points of reference.
Firstly, it is necessary to prepare for telling changes among the playing staff, whether that be an exodus of the most coveted stars or of an apparently-past-their-prime old guard.
In 2010/11, the season after Liverpool finished seventh under Rafael Benitez, it was the former, with Chelsea signing Fernando Torres and Yossi Benayoun and Javier Mascherano moving to Barcelona.
For United last term, it was the latter, with Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Darren Fletcher and Danny Welbeck all departing the club.
Efforts to replace them with players of commensurate quality will be hampered by the fact every club, agent and player worth their salt knows exactly how desperate you are to do so and attempts to bleed you dry.
Exhibit A is Liverpool’s £35m acquisition of Andy Carroll, but United paying around £10m more for Ander Herrera than Chelsea forked out for Cesc Fabregas, a player with every winner’s medal going, the same summer, is little better business.
As a result Champions League dropouts end up signing four-star talent for five-star fees.
The struggles of Liverpool and United aren’t exactly heartening for Chelsea ahead of a 2016/17 season spent trying to regain Champions League football.
However, if the Blues are to follow one side’s example over another in the best way to fail to qualify for Europe’s highest club competition then it should be that of the Red Devils.
At the time Liverpool’s 2009 Capital One Cup win seemed like a modicum of solace for their poor league performance, but it became regrettable when their attempts to return to the top four the following season were encumbered by a scarcely desired Europa League campaign.
Under David Moyes, United made no such efforts to mitigate their failure in the cups and were rewarded with a fixture light 2014/15, which enable them to pouch fourth place and a return to the Champions League at the first time of asking.