Barcelona slipped to a shock 2-0 defeat away to Granada in La Liga on Saturday. A header from Ramon Azeez put Barca behind in the first minute.
Alvaro Vadillo struck from the penalty spot after video assistant referee confirmed Arturo Vidal was guilty of handball 20 minutes into the second half to give Granada all three points. Barca had no answers, despite bringing Lionel Messi off the bench at halftime.
Granada finished the day as the shock leaders, while struggling Barcelona sit seventh.
Aside from missing Messi, Barca were also vulnerable because left-back Jordi Alba missed the game through injury. His replacement, Junior Firpo, lost possession deep into his own territory, and the hosts profited thanks to Azeez's header with less than two minutes on the clock.
Shockingly, the Blaugrana mustered next to nothing in response. There was no invention from midfield, where summer import Frenkie de Jong struggled to exert himself.
Ivan Rakitic and Vidal also weren't getting on the ball enough, leaving Antoine Griezmannand strike partner Luis Suarez starved of service. Instead, it was the hosts who were turning on the style:
Needing a major shake-up, Ernesto Valverde called Messi off the bench at the break, but the prolific No. 10 wasn't alone. Ansu Fati was also tasked with adding another chapter to his rapid rise as a 16-year-old graduate of Barca's famed La Masia academy.
Granada's intense pressure and Barca's increasing predilection for self-destruction combined to help the home side doubled its lead on 65 minutes. VAR judged Vidal was guilty of handball, awarding a penalty winger Alvaro Vadillo converted.
Barca were still lacking inspiration in the final third, but Fati and Messi combined brilliantly in the 82nd minute, only for the latter's shot to be saved. It was a decent chance, but the best the visitors could produce late on.
Enduring the club's worst start for a quarter of a century is all Valverde's men merit for the tame fare they offered.
Getting Messi back to full fitness is the obvious priority, but finding better ways to unleash De Jong's technical qualities is also a pressing need. A defence looking increasingly fragile in domestic action could also use a refresh.
It looks like too much to fix for a squad chasing a third title in a row.
Barca host Villarreal at the Camp Nou on Tuesday, while Granada face Real Valladolid away from home on the same day.