A 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo on Sunday confirmed that Los Merengues would not emerge from the winter break a different team, as their grip on LaLiga slipped ever further and Barcelona stood atop the table with a 16 point lead.
Rewinding to the summer, Madrid expressed total security as they brushed aside Manchester United in the UEFA Super Cup and hammered Barcelona 5-1 in the Supercopa de Espana.
Not only was the scoreline so convincing, there was a clear margin between Spain’s top two teams that seemed like it would take some time to close, let alone completely reverse.
The unthinkable nonetheless occurred, Real dropped off form and coach Zinedine Zidane was unable to conjure the rotations and tactical tweaks that were so effective previously.
Dropping 19 points from their opening 17 league games, Los Blancos failed to find respite in the Champions League as Tottenham Hotspur knocked them back into second place of their group.
Zidane suffered the same fate last season but this time, their punishment was instant as Paris Saint-Germain were drawn against them for the last-16.
Problems continue to mount on the pitch, too; too many stars out of form, a lack of trust, defensive frailties, a lack of fitness, little contribution from the fringe players, and poor game management have all come into play.
“I have to detect the problem, I am responsible and we are going to try to fix it. Sometimes we play 90 good minutes, but lately we are not doing that at all regularly,” said Zidane after Sunday’s draw.
All that is left for Real Madrid now is a hope that they can somehow find a way past PSG and win their favourite competition, the Champions League, with the odds suddenly stacked against them.