If there were any left out there who still did not fear the stark reality of Albion’s malaise and relegation dogfight – things have gotten very real now.
Carlos Corberan’s tenure got off to an extremely difficult start against Sheffield United with yet another home defeat in front of supporters who are understandably finding precious little on and off the pitch to be upbeat about.
Baggies fans have seen their side win just once at home in the league this season. In six games at The Hawthorns since, their side have taken just two points from a possible 18. Four defeats from the last five since Brandon Thomas-Asante lifted home for a point in the dying seconds against Burnley – a moment billed as a possible delayed lift-off turned into yet another false dawn.
In an ideal world, Saturday was the start of a bright new era under new head coach Corberan, who was last week unveiled with the unenviable task of turning this club’s fortunes around – well, on the pitch at least.
But the brutally reality is it was much of the same from the hosts. The afternoon failed to spark into life.
In truth, the return pre-match of the Liquidator was about all the beleaguered Albion fans were able to be excited about.
There was not that bounce performance-wise that is often hoped under a new boss, that crackle of encouragement and anticipation in the stands for a new era.
There appeared, on the face of it, little evidence of immediate change under the new head coach.
Corberan may have and did see otherwise. He was happy with elements, it was clear to see Albion improved at the end of either half, but having gone 2-0 up in 23 minutes Sheffield United were coasting in those stages.
There was some tangible evidence of change. Defenders lined up in the box next to goalkeeper Alex Palmer when the keeper was taking goal-kicks. There was, on rare occasions, a smidgen of high energy as Albion’s frontline went to close down, but it was miscalculated and ineffective.
Otherwise it continued to appear a group of players on the floor with their confidence and belief levels.
That is natural after so many difficult results over several months.
But there can be no excuses for these players after continued dismal failings.
It has not been good enough for so long now, under several managers, who themselves were not blameless for differing reasons.
The players have continued to perform miles below par and as a result have got exactly what they deserve.
This defeat was not on Corberan, many defeats this season were not all on Steve Bruce.
The time has long since passed when Albion’s squad needed to look in mirror and take responsibility.
They have been required to step up and take control of this serious situation but so far have been entirely incapable.
It is becoming an increasingly desperate situation. While some were understandably cautious with their expectations before a ball was kicked this season, surely not even the most pessimistic supporters would have struggled to believe their side would be rock-bottom three months into the campaign.
The big question moving forward, with three fixtures left until this strange mid-season break for the World Cup, is can Corberan turn things around on the field?
Naturally there are caveats with that, including whether or not the Spaniard will be afforded the necessary January backing to bulk his painfully failing squad.
The 39-year-old led a massive turnaround of fortunes at former club Huddersfield, where he was afforded time and patience working with an in-place and in-sync football operations team.
Chief executive Ron Gourlay has been at pains to stress he will be given all of the necessary time and patience to address Albion’s position – but the current problem at The Hawthorns is that time is not on the team’s side.
Due to the dire start to the season and a record of two wins from 17 games Albion are three points adrift of safety with the nearest rivals above them, Coventry and Huddersfield, having played fewer games.
There is simply no time left for the team to further drift. Albion simply cannot afford to let any more points slip by.
On the evidence of Saturday, and it would be a big ask to expect otherwise, an instant turnaround is unlikely.
Head coach Corberan desperately needs the four-week international break to drill his weary troops into some sort of shape to yield results.