From title favourites to reigning champions – that is the task awaiting Sunderland this week.
After putting in a tremendous effort in a brave 2-0 defeat at Liverpool, David Moyes must now get his troops ready and firing for a pivotal fixture against the kings of England, Leicester City.
The 35-year-old played the proverbial captain’s innings against the Premier League title hopefuls and their potent attackers.
The Black Cats will be on the training pitch looking for the right formula to get a win to, potentially, climb back off the bottom. Here are five burning issues facing Sunderland and Moyes.
Poor Moyes took a bit of a verbal kicking from Jurgen Klopp after the match at Anfield after the Reds boss described Sunderland as the most defensive team he had played, ever!
Clearly he had his eyes closed when Manchester United were at his ground?
Moyes got it spot on last weekend, but how does he set the Black Cats up for Leicester?
The Foxes are the absolute masters of the counter-attack – should Sunderland go from one extreme to another and pour forward, they could leave space for Claudio Ranieri’s men to exploit.
To play O’Shea or not to play O Shea:
That is the question. It is quite a poser.
The veteran centre-half stepped in at Liverpool on Saturday when Papy Djilobodji was ruled out with a one-match ban.
And the 35-year-old played the proverbial captain’s innings against the Premier League title hopefuls and their potent attackers.
Djilobodji is available for the match this Saturday.
With Jamie Vardy lightning-quick across the ground, does Moyes recall his £8million summer signing, who has made great strides in recent matches, or retain the wise head of their leader?
Time to unleash Adnan Januzaj:
The wide midfielder has recovered from an ankle injury sustained in the defeat to Crystal Palace last month.
The 21-year-old has only made two brief substitute appearances following his return, but did play more than a half - and scored a goal - for the Under-23s against Spuirs at Hetton last night.
Duncan Watmore would be the prime candidate to make way for the Belgian on a season-long loan from Manchester United, but the England Under-21 midfielder has impressed in the back-to-back wins and worked his socks off at Anfield.
Watmore has done more than enough to keep his starting role but Januzaj you suspect may be knocking on the door.
Move to a more conventional 4-4-2:
For the last three matches, Moyes has deployed his little & large double act, Jermain Defoe and Victor Anichebe.
If you watched the 2-0 defeat at Liverpool, you rarely saw them in the same vicinity in L4. If Defoe was furthest up the field, then Anichebe would be in the left chanel somewhere Patrick van Aanholt and vice-versa. The work done by the pair was tremendous on a day when solidity was the watchword.
However, this Saturday is different – no top flight club has leaked more goals on their travels than Leicester, 16, showing that the Foxes are not travelling well and must be attacked.
Anichebe and Defoe proved ultra-effective against Bournemouth and Hull and Moyes must seek a repeat at the Stadium of Light.
A return for Jan Kirchhoff:
It may be week too soon for the midfielder, but Moyes will be counting down the days to getting the former Bayern Munich man back.
The boss will not want to push the 26-year-old back too soon and risk any set-backs following hamstring trouble.
But the nous of the German, who did not play for the Under-23s last night at Hetton, could prove crucial. An outsider for a sub spot.