For a season to be accurately described as transitional, there really should be some period of stability waiting at either end of the period of flux.
At Tottenham Hotspur, this has not been the case since they emerged from the safety net of regular mid-table mediocrity into the harsh spotlight of battling for a top-four spot.
Every year Spurs undermine themselves either with managerial changes, player sales or massive influxes late in the transfer window. Occasionally they do all three.
And every year the campaign is labelled as a transitional year, with better things on the horizon if only they could be prepared to wait.
Making regular, sweeping changes is not necessarily a bad thing. Chelsea have landed no end of trophies off the back of it, and Spurs are currently enjoying their best period in the Premier League despite Daniel Levy’s twitchy trigger finger.
The problem is perhaps instead that Spurs insist on making their changes in a half-hearted, sluggish way, that somehow manages to undermine everyone at the club.
This has been especially true of new players in recent years where, no matter the reputation or the price-tag, an interminable period of integration is often required before they can play Premier League football.
Most ridiculous of all was the extended spell that Hugo Lloris spent watching Brad Friedel from the sidelines, but Erik Lamela also suffered for being ignored at the start of last season, and Federico Fazio must be nonplussed at his exclusion this term.
Mauricio Pochettino was expected to bring with him a new attacking outlook when appointed at Spurs, but everyone involved with the club knew improving the defence was a priority this summer.
Thus it was incredibly encouraging when a slew of defenders duly arrived, but that delight has turned to despair as Spurs fans have been forced to watch the same old faces making the same mistakes so far this term.
Fazio, Ben Davies and Benjamin Stambouli were all signed presumably as they were believed to be upgrades on the options already at Spurs. Little this season has suggested they wouldn’t be, so they must start at Arsenal.
By delaying their introduction Spurs have forced themselves into limbo, where no-one knows exactly what is going on and everyone is handed an excuse to under perform – an excuse rarely required of Lilywhites players.
New players need a little time to adjust to a new environment, but if Fazio can’t produce better than what Kaboul is currently serving up no matter how few of London tourist attractions he’s seen, then why has he been bought in the first place?
Last season Spurs made 21 errors leading to goals, six more than any other side in Europe’s five major leagues. It’ll take more than playing Eric Dier out of position at right-back to fix that defence.
West Brom likely couldn’t believe their luck to see Vlad Chiriches and Kaboul in defence against them while Jan Vertonghen and Fazio were left out, and Arsenal will be praying Pochettino does the same again in the north London derby.
If the Argentine does continue his slow transition, especially in terms of reshaping his defence, Spurs will get beaten handily by their bitter rivals.
Pochettino has to be brave, back the purchases made over the summer, and send out a defence that contains Fazio, Vertonghen and Davies, and does not feature his new captain.
In midfield, Stambouli was surely signed after attempts to bring in Morgan Schneiderlin failed, so back the former Montpellier man and play him alongside Etienne Capoue in the role the Southampton player was earmarked for.
Stambouli made five tackles in his brief cameo against Sunderland, and six when played from the start against Partizan Belgrade – the second-most of any man at the Stadium of Light, and joint-most in Serbia.
The Frenchman also attempts to move the ball forward as quickly as possible, something Pochettino’s is meant to demand from his midfielders and an attribute clearly not possessed by the ponderous Mousa Dembele.
Adding some extra steel to the midfield for the Arsenal game is a must, and Stambouli also looks the perfect man to start counter attacks at the Emirates.
Using lesser tournaments like the Europa League and Capital One Cup to blood new players has its merits, but exactly how much these lowkey outings in second-string sides tell you about a player is questionable, especially on dodgy pitches in Eastern Europe.
The idea that shoving a new player into the atmosphere of a north London derby will somehow see them collapse on themselves like a wet flan is ridiculous, look at Eliaquim Mangala’s assured display against Chelsea.
Playing football is their job and having spent many millions on these players, it’s safe to assume they’ve spent a fair chunk of their time doing it quite successfully in the past few years.
Spurs are hampering their attempts to adjust to Pochettino’s style by not using the players that they bought to implement it, with the result being the half-baked mess that turned out against West Brom.
Arsenal are having problems of their own, despite a handy win over Aston Villa, and there’s no reason a Spurs team that’s sure of itself couldn’t grab three points at the Emirates.
However, if Pochettino persists with the rotation policy that has confined some of his best players to midweek outings, the Gunners are certain to triumph.
After years of turbulence at White Hart Lane, Spurs fans will give Pochettino plenty of grace almost no matter what happens in their desperation for some stability.
About the only way the Argentine could alienate the fanbase is to confound expectations by sticking to the old methods and players that let the side down in the past.
Like fussy OAPs steadfastly refusing to understand Skype, Spurs have started the year mumbling a-hoy-hoy down an international landline.
If they are to claim a win at their neighbours, it’s time to embrace the change they continuously subject themselves too, and for Pochettino to really put his stamp on the side.
Arsenal are 4/5 favourites to win at the Emirates, with Spurs priced at 10/3 and the draw 5/2.