Manchester City's attempts to retain their Premier League title took irreversible damage after a 2-0 defeat by Everton in their latest match, meaning that they will spend the summer looking to get ready for another attempt next season.
In truth, for too much of this season City have looked capable without hitting the heights they reached last season, with a number of their star names not producing consistently excellent performances.
It remains to be seen whether Roberto Mancini remains in charge at the end of the campaign, given City's failure in the Champions League and now almost certainly the loss of their league title. No matter who is in charge on the training ground, changes in personnel are needed.
City will have to make room for newcomers by offloading members of their current squad. Here's four players they should start with.
Carlos Tevez has never exactly been the type of player to pledge undying loyalty to a football club, and it looks like his time in Manchester could be up this summer.
A talented and extremely dangerous striker when in his best form, Tevez has had a relatively poor year by his standards, scoring only nine times in the Premier League this season.
He now has just one year left on his contract and, given City were happy to let him go for a rather higher fee only 14 months ago, they would probably be wise to offload him for whatever fee they could fetch this season.
Tevez has consistently spoken about moving back to Argentina to finish his career; at age 29 it may still be too early for that now, but he certainly looks like he needs a new challenge.
A big-money signing from Arsenal, Samir Nasri was an integral part of a successful Manchester City team last season.
This season though has seen him go from a dangerous and creative attacking midfielder to something of a passenger in the team. He has more or less lost his place in the starting XI.
Whether it is the team, the management or the player himself, Nasri just doesn't look like playing to anything like his true capabilities this season. In this case, City would be doing themselves a favour by selling a player who is not putting the effort in to help the club's cause.
Nasri is 25 years old and has two more years on his contract; he should fetch plenty of interest and a good price in the market.
Only Scott Sinclair can answer why he chose to leave Swansea City, where he was a major player in an improving side, and move to Manchester City, where he was never likely to get too much game time.
After a total of 187 minutes of Premier League action to date, barely two matches including injury time all told, he must see the folly of his decision to make the switch.
For Sinclair's own sake as much as anything, he should be looking to move on from the Etihad Stadium.
With 12 goals in the Premier League this season, Edin Dzeko is City's top scorer.
It says a lot about the trust placed in him by the manager, then, that he has had to come on as substitute for more than half of his 25 appearances in the competition so far.
Dzeko is a starting-calibre forward for most teams, and arguably deserves to be playing on a more regular basis for City, but whether it is a tactical decision or simply that Mancini thinks others are better suited to playing more minutes, Dzeko isn't getting a regular shot.
The Bosnian striker would fetch a big fee in the transfer market, which would get a dissatisfied player off City's books and leave a big spot in the first team picture for a major reinforcement to come in during the summer transfer window.
Playing every week, Dzeko would almost certainly break the 20-goal barrier for the season for City. But as long as Mancini prefers to think of him as a better option off the bench, he might never reach his true potential at the club.