Bryan Robson has already voiced his concern at West Bromwich Albion's "ridiculous" fixture programme over the Christmas period but the manager has watched his team slide back into trouble in the Premiership and injury problems are starting to take their toll.
It is hardly what Albion need at what is notoriously a difficult time. Their 3-0 defeat away to Manchester United on Monday was disappointing but gone, it seems, is the optimism that stemmed from the emphatic victories over Everton and Manchester City.
Albion, who occupy 17th position in the Premiership, are at home to Tottenham Hotspur tonight and are likely to be without their most consistent and, perhaps, important player: Paul Robinson.
The combative left-back was stretchered off with concussion against United after colliding with Thomas Gaardsoe, his team-mate, although Wayne Rooney was hardly blameless. Robson will wait for a medical update before deciding whether to pitch Robinson straight back into the action.
If Albion can survive the next week unscathed, hopes of survival will increase. But after Tottenham come Liverpool, and then Robson can assess the hopes and fears for 2006.
Steve Watson is another to lament the fixture programme. The Albion defender says that only those who stand up to be counted will survive. That is one reason why the likely absence of Robinson will hit Albion so hard.
"It's going to be a difficult few days," Watson said. "We're playing top teams like Liverpool who have a fantastic defensive record. The fixtures are coming up thick and fast, so it will really just be a battle of fitness over Christmas.
"It will be all about who copes with the demands better. The teams with bigger squads and more quality in depth will have an advantage but we've got a fit squad and a genuine bunch of lads.
"We've had chances to win away from home this season, but have maybe got draws where we should have won and that's been disappointing," he said. "We felt we outplayed Sunderland but we came away with only a draw and then we thought we were as good as West Ham but we got beaten there.
"It has been disappointing, but it would be nice to think we could be going into the Villa game [next Monday] with our first away win under our belt."
Neil Clement (ankle) and Junichi Inamoto (thigh) are rated 50-50 to play tonight after missing the Old Trafford defeat but at least Robson should have Zoltan Gera available again following his hernia operation.
"Coming into this busy period, we will probably use him [Gera]," Robson said. "He was a big player for us last season but we haven't seen anywhere near the best of him this time because of his injury problems.
"When you look at him, Geoff Horsfield and Kevin Campbell, they've all had niggling injuries but, coming into a busy set of games, you know it is always going to be the strikers and midfielders you will need to rest."