September is not the time to be talking of relegation battles (unless you are Sunderland) but there are already portents that West Bromwich Albion are going to fall significantly short of expectations.
If you lose to Wigan Athletic at home, to a goal by Jimmy Bullard in stoppage time at the end, you cannot expect much sympathy from your own manager or your own supporters.
No, Saturday was not a good day to be an Albion player.
"They have kidded me," Bryan Robson, the stunned Albion manager, said of his team. "We started off this season as we finished off last season but the past three matches have been unacceptable, especially with our defending."
At the final whistle, the Albion players sauntered off to chants of "what a load of rubbish" and one felt as though The Hawthorns had slipped into a timewarp.
Turn the clocks back to May 1978, when Albion were the sixth-best team in England, Nottingham Forest the League champions, and Liverpool the European champions. Then, Wigan were still in the Northern Premier League.
Now, Wigan are above Albion and Liverpool in the Premiership table, while Forest are closer to non-League football than they are to the top flight.
But, then, 27 years is a long time. How about going back four months, to when survival was secured and the Albion fans were at one with the players? That, too, seems a long time ago.
The problem is that part of what went right for Wigan on Saturday owed much to what went wrong for Albion. Robson's players are no longer performing like ones with something to prove. Perhaps Albion need a relegation battle to produce their best football.
There is a lack of urgency in midfield, a lack of cohesion up front and a lack of concentration at the back. The demise has been frightening.
It is hard to see how Thomas Gaardsoe, the Albion centre-back, can survive in the first team for much longer, especially with the arrival of the highly-promising Curtis Davies.
And perhaps Robson might be tempted to decide on his best two strikers and stick with them for a few matches, if only to breed familiarity up front. Ditto, the midfield, which seems to suffer from a lack of composure.
Albion's main problem is that, as they proved against Wigan, they can play good football in spurts but not for large segments of a match.
Even when they defeated Portsmouth 2-1 at The Hawthorns in August, there was a feeling that Albion had performed short of acceptable standards.
Now they have been found out. Now it is back to the drawing board. Now it is time for changes.
It looked good when Jonathan Greening scored for Albion with a fierce shot from 20 yards out in the 26th minute, for it came at a time when the home team were dominating and Wigan were looking vulnerable.
But Wigan soaked up the pressure and looked dangerous on the break. Jason Roberts, the former Albion striker, was jeered throughout but his presence was enough to rattle Gaardsoe and David Connolly, making his debut for Wigan, was superlative.
It was Connolly who equalised in the 40th minute, latching on to a pass by Damien Francis, beating Gaardsoe for pace and scoring with a first-time shot from eight yards.
The second half was high on tempo and low and quality and it seemed as though the match would end in a draw. That was until Albion allowed Bullard space just inside the penalty area and the Wigan midfield player placed the ball beyond the flailing arms of Chris Kirkland.
Robson was fuming. "How we switched off at the end I don't know, because we left a man free near the corner flag and then another man free on the edge of our six-yard box to set up their goalscorer," he said.
"There were a few harsh words said in the dressing room after the game and the lads have to take a good look at themselves because we are resting on our laurels from last season. The frailty with which we are giving goals away is really poor."
The good news is that time is on Albion's side. There are 33 matches left for the players to acquire the necessary 42 points to virtually guarantee Premiership survival.
And history is on their side. The last time the supporters turned on the players with such intensity was at St Andrew's last December, when Albion lost 4-0 to Birmingham City.
Although it did not feel like it at the time, it was probably the best thing to happen to Albion. They did not look back.
Nine months on, after a similar response from the supporters, Robson will be looking for a similar response from his players.
"The supporters are going to boo if you get beaten by a Wigan team in their first season in the Premiership," he said.