The Premier League title race is not over after four games – but enough evidence has now been produced to know the pattern is set and the race will once again involve only two horses.
Manchester City and Liverpool have only taken that short period to confirm they are now arguably even further ahead of the chasing pack than in May, when a single-point advantage sent the title to Manchester City and third-placed Chelsea trailed in 25 points behind Jurgen Klopp’s side.
It does not mean the season will be any less exciting, but it is sobering to already know which way the wind is blowing with 34 games remaining. Same two title contenders.
Chelsea are in serious transition under Frank Lampard, operating with a transfer ban and without Eden Hazard, while to watch Manchester United draw at Southampton on Saturday was to see a team and club light-years away from their glory days with a fight on its hands to finish in the top four.
And then we come to the north London derby between Arsenal and Spurs at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
It was thrilling, chaotic, wonderfully entertaining. And packed with the sort of flaws that informed every observer that neither will be anywhere near the top two.
Spurs have threatened a challenge in recent years and there is still every chance Mauricio Pochettino’s side will compete for prizes after reaching the Champions League Final in May.
The title? Forget it.
Pochettino has cut a frustrated figure since pre-season and his mood will not have been helped by watching Spurs concede a two-goal lead to share the points with Arsenal.
Spurs are not quite right and it is manifesting itself in performances and results such as the failure to break down Newcastle United in a damaging home defeat and the loss of a big advantage here.
They could, for perspective, point to draws earned away at Manchester City and now Arsenal but they have not been themselves in either game despite results that are very creditable on the surface.
There has been an air of uncertainty over the club but at least one cloud should roll away with the closure of the European transfer window and Christian Eriksen’s continuing presence at the club.
The Dane, influential here with an early goal and two subsequent near misses, has shown no desire to commit to the club and only a lack of interest from elsewhere keeps him where he is.
It is almost as if Pochettino feels Spurs’ season cannot truly get started until the European window is shut and he knows exactly who he is working with. Eriksen should also be more settled as he will know he can only earn his prized move by performing for his current club. He has to get on with it.
Even here, there were still continuing and understandable questions about Eriksen’s future. Pochettino simply wants to get on with the season and his outlook will not be helped by an indifferent start of just one win and five points from their first four matches.