The state of things
Sunderland travel to Chelsea for the final game of the season not expecting much and praying for the final whistle to bring the curtain down on a terrible campaign and herald a summer reboot.
The match itself holds limited interest for a Sunderland fanbase reluctant to watch on as Antonio Conte's side holds its title-winning party. A Stamford Bridge shindig to which we're invited to act as the afternoon's whipping boys holds little more than a morbid curiosity for those of a red-and-white persuasion.
Chelsea backers will find the shortest odds of the season to conclude the Blues' campaign of glory. Conte's side are priced in this game at 1/7 for the victory. At 20/1 Sunderland really are just there to make up the numbers.
So many problems at the Stadium of Light can now only be eradicated once the season has concluded and with owner Ellis Short set to meet manager David Moyes in the aftermath of Sunday's game, the real action for Sunderland AFC will take place from next week.
Moyes faced the press today before the disheveled squad depart for their second journey of the week to the capital.
Here's a recap of what he said.
A 'disappointing' number of players have now reported as injured
Without naming those who many suspect lack the moral fibre to take to the pitch and face the relegation in which they've played a significant part, yet more Sunderland players have now reported as injured ahead of Sunday's game.
On the state of the squad Moyes said:
We have an incredible number of injuries going into the last game of the season and I'm disappointed with that.
With reports of certain first team members waltzing around the Metro Centre whilst their colleagues were part of the playing squad last week, few prizes need be awarded for naming those who will again be missing this weekend with a question mark hanging over their professionalism.
Didier Ndong and Lamine Kone have now joined the likes of Darron Gibson, Bryan Oviedo, Seb Larsson, Victor Anichebe, Jason Denayer, Jack Rodwell, Papy Djilobodji and Wahbi Khazri on the casualty or potential-casualty list.
Ten first team members with knocks, dead legs and niggles.
Which ones are the boys who cried wolf?
Moyes on the dressing room
Fabio Borini hinted at it last month and results on the pitch have largely confirmed it, Sunderland's squad have appeared disinterested, demotivated and disillusioned. Add to that a patent lack of ability and character in many individual cases and failing to win games will normally be the outcome.
But David Moyes suggested the cycle of losing has smashed the spirit in the dressing room and is the main reason morale has sunk so low:
If you're losing, it doesn't make for people who are happy. If you're winning it covers a multitude of sins at times and we've just not won enough. So at times we've not had a great dressing room.
On rebuilding the squad
Faced with disbanding that dressing room and starting again, Moyes reiterated the scale of the job ahead this summer:
Unfortunately it's the turnover of players that's the problem...Last year we lost maybe fourteen players and that makes every year a big cycle of turnover.
And on the way he intends restructuring the squad:
I think we have a core here and we need to keep those players. We need to find a way of adding to it and add players who have quality.
On meeting with Ellis Short
The Sunderland boss is expected to meet with chairman and owner Ellis Short next week after the conclusion of the Premier League campaign:
I met Ellis a few weeks ago and we agreed we'll meet again in a few weeks. I've laid out some plans and given him some ideas of what I think things should look like going forward.
And on the financial problems which have been increasingly laid bare this season:
The financial situation is out there to see. We're over £100m in debt. We've quite a large wage budget for the money we take in. That's been accumulated for a while, and somewhere along the line that has to stop.
And on targeting promotion
Finally, Moyes reflected on the goal for next season being to bounce straight back into the Premier League:
I don't think it can be anything else. Sunderland carry big expectations and arguably Sunderland could be the biggest club in the Championship next year
Just this weekend to get over and we can begin to look ahead.