Manchester United hoped that a trip to lowly Watford would provide the spark necessary to re-ignite the flame. After all, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had the entirety of the international break to rejuvenate!
A 4-1 defeat, however, was certainly not what the Old Trafford hierarchy had in mind. What was self-evident to so many United fans took five hours to consider - and Ole did pay the price with his career.
But what else is troubling this talented side?
How can one keep Ronaldo happy?
Cristiano Ronaldo joined Juventus and Massimiliano Allegri - the man responsible for several back-to-back Scudetti - was gone by the start of the following season. Maurizio Sarri received only a year's tenure, as did Andrea Pirlo.
United have now recognized a parallel. Ronaldo has never advocated for anyone's dismissal - as far as we are aware - but by associating yourself with a serial winner, you'd better start winning things.
Cr7's mere presence demands results. His signing was viewed as a spark for a title challenge – and now the next manager will be judged on how he manages the superego, balances a squad around the Portuguese, and manages expectations for the remainder of the season. It's quite the balancing act.
Do they have a leader?
Harry Maguire responded to criticism of his Manchester United form by knee-sliding and sticking his fingers in his ears after scoring against Albania on international duty. Roy Keane described it as "embarrassing" - and while that may be going a little far, Keano has genuine concerns.
Maguire has performed admirably as United's captain, but the group lacks leadership. Bruno Fernandes is vice-captain and leads by example - albeit not recently - and while Varane, Ronaldo, and Rashford are all leaders in their own right, there does not appear to be a core of strong personalities along the lines of Keane's.
United attract the greatest players in the world, but when compared to Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea, they have crucial leaders across the field capable of leading their club through difficult times. That is quite a burden to place entirely on Maguire's shoulders.
Why is 'McFred' still a pairing?
United fans thought they were one defensive midfielder short of a title push before the season began. They're nowhere near that challenge right now, but the DM gap is widening by the week.
Solskjaer struggled with Scott McTominay and Fred, while Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba have both struggled in midfield to varying degrees. While United has attacking midfielders like van de Beek, Bruno, and Jesse Lingard, the team's DM area lacks the same quality.
Is it now time to spend £100 million on Declan Rice? Most likely not. This is a major concern for whoever replaces Ralf Rangnick at Old Trafford, as the United team requires a little more nuance in the middle of the park.