Rugby Corrrespondent Brian Dick on the possibility of farce and tragedy meeting in a gripping drama...
A quarter of the National One season remains and while Harlequins' procession at the top has stripped the promotion situation of any excitement, the dogfight at the bottom is threatening to get really nasty.
Take last Saturday as a case in point. Pertemps Bees danced off their Sharmans Cross pitch delighted at having beaten a full-time Exeter side only to have their joy qualified when their rivals' results began to filter through.
Last-placed Sedgley Park had taken three points from their draw with Newbury, next-up Doncaster had come within seconds of winning at Plymouth Albion and London Welsh were victors away to Otley.
In short, Bees' best performance for four months had not lifted them anywhere in the league and had not narrowed the two-point gap on the Exiles, the team immediately above them.
Which means that, with two to go down, only 12 points separate 13th from tenth and everyone in the bottom five left to play at least two of their remaining seven games against each other, it's calculator, set-square and compass time.
Throw into the cocktail the fact the Rugby Football Union could let Otley, Welsh, Bees, Doncaster and Sedgley Park spend the next nine weeks punching themselves to a standstill and then say: "Only joking boys you're all welcome to have another go next season."
The whole shebang has the makings of a collaboration between the Ealing Studios and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Farce meets trag-edy meets gripping drama.
So who, if anybody, is for the drop this year? The existing bottom two, Sedgley Park and Doncaster, have to be favourites but that's not to say the rest aren't without their worries.
Starting locally, Bees will realistically have to wait until the last month of the season to make their biggest strides up the table. Before that a trip to Penzance to take on the Cornish Pirates and a visit from likely runners-up Bedford, won't yield much.
The Pirates are on the point of mutiny, many of them will jump ship at the end of the campaign, but it's a question of whether they have thrown in the towel sufficiently to allow a bunch of semi-pros from Solihull to beat them on their own patch.
After that, though, the fixture list is particularly inviting. Otley and Nottingham have to come to the Midlands while something could be gleaned from dates in Rotherham and Newbury.
It is doubtful, therefore, that their final match, at home to Doncaster, will be the relegation-decider it might otherwise have been.
Phil Maynard's men will be reasonably confident of at least three more wins, meaning too many points for the York-shiremen to overhaul.
At the bottom Sedgley's best hopes appear to lie with the governing body's Council and their decision on league restructuring.
They are already ten points from safety and with Harlequins, Penzance and Plymouth Albion still to play their season effectively boils down to four games. That won't be enough and even if they win three they'll still be adrift.
Just above them, Doncaster, who trail Bees by six points, have the easiest run-in. Their next three games are all at home and they have to face all four of the candidates for demotion. Equally, they play none of the top four.
They looked to be in freefall until last weekend. The sacking of director of rugby Pieter Muller came as something of a surprise to everyone after which they spiralled out of control.
But then they went to Brickfields and were leading 26-25 in the fourth minute of injury time only to lose to the last kick of the game - much to everyone else's relief. That performance and their remaining programme gives the Castle Park side cause for hope.
If Doncaster can get moving London Welsh will be the most vulnerable. The Old Deer Park outfit play the bottom two in the next three weeks - a period that will determine their future.
Beyond that, April is heinously difficult. They simply have to get something out of their meetings with four of the top five but Welsh are one of those clubs who tailor their results according to the situation.
Which leaves Otley, presently fifth from bottom. When they won at Park Lane ten days ago, the Yorkshiremen seemed safe but the loss at home to Welsh has put them back into the mix.
Their run-in is a combination of the winnable, losable and the unpredictable. It would be a major shock if they were to drop into National Two this season even though time is catching up with their two big props, Kris Fullman and Justin Wring, and important kicker, Simon Binns.
If we assume results go according to the form book the resolution will be provided when the sides meet each other. Beyond that nothing can be predicted, except, perhaps, for even more dithering on the Council.