Bringing in a horde of familiar faces and losing the services of key players from the previous season (whether it was his choice or not) meant that David Moyes well and truly reshuffled Sam Allardyce's deck of cards. But whilst the Scotsman's predecessor crafted a successful style of play we came to identify our team with, the current man in charge hasn't been able to do the same.
Moyes has had a weird habit of dropping key players without a reasonable explanation. A notable example of this was swapping out Ndong for Rodwell due to wanting more 'Britishness' in the center of the park - a decision which had the only conceivable outcome of depriving our midfield of what little creativity it still had in our Gabonese record signing. Predictably, the losses in our goal drought were gutless and soul-destroying to watch.
Speaking of lacking creativity, there's also the case of the scandalous omission of Wahbi Khazri who, prior to his great performance last week, hadn't even started a game in 2017.
He demonstrated against West Ham that he's more than capable of getting arses off of seats by adding that creative flair which we've sorely missed, so why didn't Moyes take a chance on him back when Premier League survival was still plausible?
When you're a team like Sunderland that's lacking in quality, you're understandably going to be on the back foot in the majority of your games in the Premier League, so basing your game plan around keeping possession ensures a defensive set-up against the threat of superior opposition.
But just because it sounds good in principle doesn't necessarily mean it's going to work, as we've found out. Moyes, however, has proved too stubborn to make any drastic changes. I can't help but feel that Moyes sees Khazri as more of a 'luxury player' - someone who would be best utilised in a team that can regularly dispose of their opponents in style.
Whatever the managers conception of Khazri may be, he has to face facts and accept that, at this point, we may as well include a player like him in our squad because it's better to dignify our defeats with exciting players than slump to predictable 1-0 and 2-0 losses.
Omitting players such as Khazri who don't suit a side at the bottom and leaving out the likes of Ndong in order to reinforce some form of ambiguous nationalism will see us go down. Playing the likes of Khazri and Ndong who give us a few more creative options will also see us end the season in the drop zone - but at least we might get some entertainment out of it!
If we're going down regardless, we may as well use as many of our creative players as possible, and bow out of the Premier League with fight and finesse rather than monotonous losses and goalless stalemates.