Few Sunderland fans have truly believed recently the club could save itself from relegation but Tuesday's two points dropped against Norwich pretty much killed all hope. So what set of results would be needed for a miracle to occur this season?
Last season and this are pretty much proving that Sunderland used up their allotted allowance of miracles in the years that the club somehow managed to stay in the Premier League.
The awful end to the David Moyes era and the current too-little-too-late bid to stave off the threat of a successive relegation confirms the Black Cats have used up all of their lives.
Come the end of this miserable campaign, we'll ponder when it was that we knew the game was up and relegation to League One looked nailed on.
There was a brief spell on Tuesday night that offered the tiniest chink of chance that victory against Norwich could spark a last-gasp bid for safety but Ivo Pinto's 89th minute equaliser killed off any hope, even amongst the most optimistic Sunderland supporters.
As we trudged away from the Stadium of Light the other night, with that familiar feeling of gloom, it was starkly apparent that there's virtually no chance of salvation now. But is there a sequence of results which could still play out and save Sunderland from relegation?
Well, pretty much 'no' is the answer. Playing about with fixtures, potential results and permutations confirms that Sunderland will probably have to win three out of the four games left to stand a chance of staying up; and even a pair of wins and a draw would require two of Barnsley, Bolton and Birmingham really messing up their run-in and fail to collect much of anything.
Dusting off the WaW super computer one last time (MS Word and some GCSE Grade 'C' mental arithmetic) reveals something like this would have to happen for the Black Cats to remain in the Championship....
Greens are wins, oranges are draws and reds are defeats so a last gasp survival bid based on none of your rivals winning another game already looks hopeless.
There are now only three factors which could save Sunderland from relegation, and each would have to occur concurrently in order that the drop into League One could be averted.
Assuming Burton are 'gone' those holy trinity of salvation hopes are:
- That Sunderland have actually found a little form in recent weeks and if probably too late, are seemingly coming good as the end of the season approaches;
- That our goal difference is roughly comparable to two of the others who could still drop - Birmingham and Bolton.
- That Birmingham and Barnsley's fixtures in the run-in are pretty minging and are probably equally as difficult as our own.
But quite frankly, it's all way too futile to really mean much and with the goose cooked and the fat lady singing, it really is time to bid farewell to the second tier for at least as a season.