The halcyon days of European adventure are far into the distance for Deportivo La Coruna.
Though last night's agonising late defeat at the hands of Real Madrid displayed some shoots of recovery for La Liga's basement side, the situation at Estadio Riazor is perilous – both on and off the field.
Their return to Spain's top division after a year away was supposed to signal the beginning of the Depor recovery, spearheaded by a partnership with super-agent Jorge Mendes and an influx of Portuguese talent.
But with just 13 games of the season left, the Turcos find themselves rooted to the foot of the table and nine points adrift of safety, with concerns growing about their long term prospects financially.
LFP vice-president Javier Tebas suggested this week that if Depor were to get relegated, they may be forced into liquidation as a result of their spiralling debts.
“If they don’t get good agreements on long-term repayments, for the level of debt they have, they could be in a very difficult situation. They’re in a period of restructuring their debts, but if at any time they failed to meet their repayments, they’re at risk of not continuing their activities, within two or three years.”
“A certain level of debt can be managed in the Primera, because there’s a lot of revenue income. But if they fall to the Segunda and stay there, there’s the risk of not meeting repayment deadlines. Clubs like this are the most at risk of going out of existence.”
Survival is vital for Deportivo's longevity, and the man charged with the task is now Fernando Vazquez – their third Coach of the season, after Domingos Pacienca (another Portuguese import) lasted little over a month, unable to turn around their fortunes.
Vazquez was understandably disappointed with the late defeat on Saturday evening, but also took heart from a battling display that should give Deportivo fans hope of a Houdini-esque great escape.
“If you believed in us before, now you’ll believe in us even more. I think, like the fans who chanted, “Yes, we can.”
However, the point remains that good performances won't drag Los Blanquiazulesaway from trouble. They need results, and they need them quickly. With six straight defeats, Depor need a monumental turnaround in the final part of the season to avoid slipping back into the Segunda, and possibly into the abyss, if their financial problems are as bad as documented.
Whilst they face Barcelona shortly, they have two crucial games on the horizon. They play the other two teams occupying relegation places – local rivals Celta Vigo and Mallorca – in consecutive weeks, for what can be considered genuine six-pointers.
As the old saying goes, points win prizes. And there's no bigger prize available for Deportivo than survival in La Liga.