Leicester swept to the title last season on a wave of momentum – but their follow-up Premier League campaign is fast becoming a momentous flop.
The champions are just two points above the drop zone following Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Watford, as the threat of relegation grows.
All the qualities which propelled Claudio Ranieri’s 5,000-1 shots to the Premier League crown six months ago seem long gone – on the evidence of their latest performance, possibly for ever.
Boss Ranieri started nine of his regulars from last season at Vicarage Road, yet his side looked strangely disjointed.
Etienne Capoue volleyed the Hornets into the lead after just 33 seconds – their fastest ever Premier League goal – before Roberto Pereyra curled in a second after 12 minutes.
Leicester pulled one back when Riyad Mahrez converted a penalty after Miguel Britos’ clumsy foul on Jamie Vardy — yet another spot-kick won by the England striker.
But City remain without an away league victory this term and this was their sixth loss — double the amount they suffered in the entire 2015-16 campaign.
Skipper and centre-half Wes Morgan, an ever-present last term, said: “When you are full of confidence, you feel you can win every game you play. But at the moment things aren’t falling for us.
“It is hard to take any positives from the game, but we did put a lot of effort in and I think the fans saw that. One or two wins will put us back on track.
“Momentum is a big thing. Once we find our consistency again that will change our luck and we can start climbing up that table.”
Though Leicester are on the verge of a place in the last 16 of the Champions League, Ranieri admitted the spectre of relegation is looming.
“Last season, always I was watching behind me and this season I am watching behind me,” he said.
“I was very happy with our spirit and performance — only the result was wrong. But with this spirit, sooner or later we will get better.”