Manchester United succumbed to a defeat in London against a team from London while the entire squad looked lost and hapless and it almost seemed like they had thrown in the towel.
Sounds familiar? Well, that was what had transpired in last season under Erik ten Hag in their second game against Brentford at the Gtech Community Stadium.
Once again, in the second game of the current campaign, the same occurred against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
And the similarities do not end there. Despite spending in excess of £400 million (when taking into account all the add-ons), the team still shows the same vulnerabilities.
Same issues persist despite transfer backing
The manager can attest to the fact that he wanted a different set of players in key positions but the truth is, he has been backed more than previous managers and he deserves the support.
But even after more than a season, the squad still lacks an elite striker capable of scoring match-winning goals, solidity in midfield, and a fully-fit and high-pressing team that does not give up.
In his first campaign, Ten Hag wanted an elite goalscorer but had to make do with a wantaway Cristiano Ronaldo and that plan ultimately bombed as the Portuguese left mid-way under acrimonious circumstances.
The Dutch boss wanted two forwards this campaign but he instead got an injured Rasmus Hojlund and even if he recovers soon, it would be foolish to expect the Dane to light the Premier League on fire at the age of 20.
Marcus Rashford clearly does not want to play up top and his struggles in front of goal is a huge issue considering he scored almost 30 per cent of the team’s goals in all competitions.
In midfield, Casemiro changed the complexion of the team last season but he is struggling in the current campaign, not only because of his age and fitness but also because of the manager’s team selection.
The team needs an elite passer or someone who can calm things down alongside the Brazilian and while Fred was sacrificed for new signing Mason Mount, the same issues persist.
Christian Eriksen might still be the answer but the Dane clearly lacks the legs and further transfers are required to fix this mess.
Under former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and interim boss Ralf Rangnick, a lot was written about the team’s mentality and how they keep giving up when things do not go their way.
United will be hoping for a similar turnaround both on and off the pitch
And those issues still persist. It was on full display during the hammerings against Liverpool and Manchester City and it was a familiar tale against Spurs as the team gave up after a decent first-half as soon as the opponents scored their goal.
Realistically, Ten Hag is a far better manager than the previous incumbents and should sort these problems out or at the very least, formulate the best possible plan to hide these deficiencies.
And it might require a blockbuster signing and a season-defining result to turn things around in United’s favour just like what happened last season.
The signing of Casemiro from Real Madrid and the thrilling win against Liverpool at home turned things around for the Red Devils.
They subsequently went on a run of only two defeats in 17 games, the sort of form that saw them within touching distance of the league leaders at the time.
Can United deliver in the transfer market and can the team regroup for the clash against Arsenal in a fortnight’s time? Only time will tell.