Sunderland must avoid defeat at West Ham on Saturday to avoid the shame of the worst start to a Premier League season by any club this century.
Not since Sheffield Wednesday in 1999 have a club recorded two points or less in their opening nine games of a top-flight campaign.
Even Aston Villa, relegated by mid-April this year, boasted four points from their first nine outings last season.
So too – in 2013-14 – did the Sunderland side after a start deemed disastrous enough for Paolo Di Canio to be sacked as manager.
And the Black Cats picked up five points in their opening nine games of the 2005-06 relegation season under Mick McCarthy.
Having mustered three points from the same period at this stage last year, Sunderland are the first top-flight club for 111 years to go winless in their opening eight games in successive seasons.
The last team to do that was Bury in 1905-06, though they avoided relegation by winning their last three games of the season – including betaing Sunderland 3-0 on the final day.
Equally worryingly, only five of the club bottom of the Premier League in the last 15 seasons after their opening nine games went on to avoid relegation – although Sunderland in 2015-16 were among them.
BOTTOM OF THE PREMIER LEAGUE AFTER NINE GAMES:
2015-16: Sunderland – 3 points
2014-15: Burnley – 4 points *
2013-14: Crystal Palace – 3 points *
2012-13: QPR – 3 points *
2011-12: Blackburn – 5 points *
2010-11: West Ham – 6 points *
2009-10: Portsmouth – 3 points *
2008-09: Spurs - 5 points
2007-08: Derby – 5 points
2006-07: Charlton 4 points *
2005-06: Everton 4 points
2004-05: Crystal Palace 5 *
2003-04: Leicester 5 points *
2002-03: Bolton 7 points
2001-02: Leicester 5 points*
2000-01: Derby County 5 points
* Signifies club was relegated that season