Andre Villas-Boas looked and sounded like a broken man after Tottenham's calamitous 6-0 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday.
"To lose 6-0 is extremely embarrassing," Villas-Boas said on Sky Sports. "We have high expectations for the season and losing to a rival by that scoreline is always difficult.
"A defeat like this tends to stick more to your career than the good things you achieve. Our game plan, our confidence and motivation was affected after we suffered a goal in 13 seconds. It is a bad moment. We have to be ashamed of the result."
And frankly it wasn't surprising that he reacted that way, especially as Spurs actually weren't as abject as the scoreline would suggest for the whole game. Between the ludicrous goal conceded after just 14 seconds, and the second 34 minutes later, Spurs were OK, if a little ponderous on the ball.
In some ways that is worse than simply being hammered for 90 minutes—it evokes the old 'I can cope with the despair, but it's the hope that kills me' line. There were glimpses of something promising, without the promise ever turning into something more tangible to hang onto.
It's clear that something needs to change at Spurs, especially when it comes to their forward line, but that might not be particularly easy. Many have suggested that Emmanuel Adebayor should be brought in for the under-performing Roberto Soldado, but that is a textbook case of someone's reputation being inflated when they're out of sight. While it's unfair to judge too harshly or write him off after only half a game, he showed little in his 45 minutes on the pitch against City to suggest he might be the man to solve all their problems.
Villas-Boas has also hinted at a change in formation. He said last week, as quoted by The Daily Mail:
“We've trained with 4-4-2 during this international break, we played a game against a local team over here last Friday playing 4-4-2. We probably can move to it in future."
While the current fashion is for teams to avoid 4-4-2 because of the perceived lack of control in midfield, it is possible for that system to still be successful, as Spurs found out at close quarters with City's own version of the formation took them apart.
While Manuel Pellegrini's side are far from perfect, their system works because in Fernandinho and Yaya Toure, they have two players who can both cover the necessary ground and use the ball in an intelligent manner, thus avoiding the danger of being overrun in midfield. This allows them to field two strikers, and while it obviously helps that those two strikers are Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo, it offers Pellegrini an element of tactical flexibility.
In theory, Spurs have their own versions of Toure and Fernandinho. Sandro is back to full fitness and playing well, while Paulinho has the requisite energy and 'box-to-box' qualities, and Mousa Dembele combines a physicality with intelligent use of possession that could work in a two-man central midfield.
Tottenham's problem in comparison to City is that their forwards are firstly obviously inferior, but also the strikers at Villas-Boas' disposal—Adebayor, Soldado and Jermain Defoe—are very much centre-forwards, and are unlikely to drop deeper to link play with their midfield, as someone like Aguero does. There is thus a danger of a large gap developing between attack and midfield, thus starving an already malnourished forward line of service.
Still, at the moment, anything is worth a try for Villas-Boas.