This season wasn't supposed to be easy for the Golden State Warriors – we all knew that.
The defection of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson's injury, the forced trade of Andre Iguodala and the retirement of Shaun Livingston meant that this was always going to be a transition season.
The recent injuries to remaining superstars Steph Curry and Draymond Green, as well as developing centre Kevon Looney, rubbed salt into the wounds. From here, it's just a matter of how far do the Warriors fall.
Sometimes it takes something stark to bring into focus just how far the mighty have fallen. Yesterday, the Warriors starting lineup in their loss to the Charlotte Hornets was: Ky Bowman, Jordan Poole, Willie Cauley-Stein, Glenn Robinson III and Eric Paschall. Compare that to exactly 12 months prior, a win versus Minnesota: Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green and Damian Jones (one of these things is not like the others).
Despite the tempered outlook, this was not what the NBA world expected.
Many believed we'd see a return to the Nuclear Steph of mid this decade. That without having to share with KD (or Klay) Steph would morph back into the flame throwing sniper that revolutionised the way the sport is played.
It was thought that a fit Draymond Green would be able bring his playoff game for the full 82 game regular season. That D'Angelo Russell (out with an ankle tweak last weekend) would thrive in the Warriors egalitarian offense, relishing in the space that Curry provides. That Kevon Looney would continue to make giant strides with the added responsibilities he'd inherit.
Watch all the NBA action on Kayo - grab a two week free trial here!
What we have instead is a line-up that would embarrass many an expansion squad. We have the Warriors haters finally feeling emboldened to pop their heads up and bask in glorious schadenfreude at Golden State's expense.
But maybe we were all too quick to just assume that Steph & Dray would make everything alright.
Maybe coach Steve Kerr was right when he said that 'This is not a one-off. This is the reality'.
With their full lineup (sans Looney), the Warriors stunk it up right from the jump, losing their first two games in horrific fashion to the Clippers and Thunder. That lead to the always-honest-to-a-fault Green saying, 'We (redacted) suck right now.'
He's right, too. The Warriors are ranked 29th in net rating, after coming in second last season. Their defense (quietly the reason this team was so devastatingly effective) is utterly atrocious. Ranking dead last in points conceded per 100 possessions.
It's not like there is a lot of room for GM Bob Myers to manoeuvre his team through the storm, either. At present, the Warriors are hard capped, meaning they cannot add any more salary, so chasing a star at the expense of a draft pick or prospect is out of the question.
They have around $118 million of that cap allocated to Curry, Green, Thompson & Russell. There has been long rumoured interest in D'Lo from the Timberwolves. The Dubs cap situation makes it difficult, though.
They know there isn't an available player, with the requisite salary figure, that would make them better, although keep an eye on Washington. If Russell doesn't work out and John Wall has any setbacks, would Beal for Russell and some picks be on the table?
So it's safe to say that this season is a write off. After the success that they've had, surely the Warriors and their fans will be able to weather the storm, knowing that they'll load up again next season.
But what if that doesn't happen? Curry will be 32 years old at the start of next season, with a litany of injuries that are sure to catch up with the slightly built guard at some point.
Green will be 30 and isn't exactly known for his conditioning; Thompson will also be 30 and coming off an ACL. Suddenly, you're looking at one of the oldest cores in the Association.
Without a slew of highly touted youngsters coming through, the Warriors are relying in retreads like this years free agent pick ups Alec Burks and Willie Cauley-Stein.
Players of that ilk might help the team stay in contention for a few more years, but there will come a time when the Warriors have to pay the piper.
But despite all the doom and gloom over San Francisco Bay, there are - believe it or not – reasons to be optimistic about Golden State.