Real Salt Lake's season began under a microscope, a glaring spotlight that only grew brighter as the early weeks of the 2011 campaign passed by.
That bang has become a whimper, and baring another dramatic turn in the near future, what was hyped as the greatest season in the Claret-and-Cobalt's seven year history will soon fade into silence.
With two matches left in the regular season, RSL is clearly nearing a crossroads as a franchise.
Real has kept its roster largely intact for four years, carefully adding in pieces of the puzzle that fit perfectly as RSL built itself into a juggernaut.
As this campaign winds down, however, cracks are beginning to appear, edges are fraying.
After managing to keep a strong pace through much of the year despite numerous injuries, suspensions and international team call-ups that continually forced RSL coach Jason Kreis to juggle his lineup, Real hit a wall at the midpoint of the season that it has yet to recover from.
Sure the team did rip off a five-match winning streak that is the longest in the league this season, but surrounding that, RSL is 6-8 in its last 14 matches and has dropped four straight as the endgame of the campaign approaches.
While it's easy to argue that Real's current struggles and poor form are again the result of missing pieces, but it just isn't that simple.
RSL dealt with those same issues, and more, earlier this season and overcame many of them, or was at least competitive with its opponents.
During its four match losing streak, Real has been outscored 12-2. In its last outing, it took a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the worst team in Major League Soccer this season, which was the third time during the skid that it had allowed three or more goals.
To put it in perspective, in RSL's first 28 matches it allowed just 25 goals.
That means that nearly a third of the goals scored against the Claret-and-Cobalt (32.4 percent) have been in the last four matches.
It's hardly the ideal way finish up a season and head into the playoffs, especially with no logical reason for it.
Yes, again, you can argue that this poor finish could be attributed to who isn't on the field, but this is a professional team, one that has prided itself on depth, as well as a penchant for hustle and hard work.
Prior to his squad's five-match win streak, Kreis took aim and warned that if things didn't change, that there would be many "difficult decisions" to be made during the offseason.
With midfielder Kyle Beckerman out until the end of the season due to suspension, Real will not have the opportunity to field its first choice lineup again before the postseason, which means that if this slump is going to change, others are going to have to step up.
And if they don't, then those difficult decisions that Kreis spoke of will have arrived.
You can follow Justin Johnson on Twitter at: @jjohnson801 or email him at email@example.com.