It is little more than three months since Mikel Arteta and Arsenal swept to the FA Cup on a wave of optimism, but it feels a lot longer.
Victory at Wembley and a run of eight wins in 11 games appeared to confirm that, under their former captain, the Gunners were on the up again.
Now, after a tepid start to the new season that has gleaned just 11 points and nine goals from nine Premier League games, that optimism is dissipating.
In fact, some of the qualities that appeared to confirm Arteta as the right man for the job now appear to be holding them back.
It raises a few questions. Was the rush to anoint him saviour too hasty, the returning hero too good a story to resist?
Or have Arteta’s Arsenal merely strayed from the right path, soon to be righted again?
Arsenal’s goalless draw with Leeds on Sunday was not typical as they were reduced to 10 men, but recurring problems have been easy enough to identify.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, scorer of 29 goals last term, has hit the net just four times.
Anecdotally, it seems as though they do not get enough players forward, leaving Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette often looking isolated.
Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos like to receive possession from the defence, but that can leave Arsenal absent in midfield.
The result is that their attacking output is poor: they rank 15th in the Premier League for both goals and shots.
Equally, it is clear where Arteta has improved the team.
Only two teams in the division have conceded fewer goals, while they rank sixth for clean sheets.
They are eighth for clearances and second for clearances off the line.
Bernd Leno is a good goalkeeper, while Arsenal are particularly strong on the left of defence with impressive new signing Gabriel and the indefatigable Kieran Tierney.
Notable scalps, including the FA Cup final and subsequent defeats of Liverpool and Manchester United, confirm that Arsenal can defend.
That is no mean feat; it is easy to forget how hapless they have been at the back. That trait has not been eradicated, but this is tangible improvement.
But have defensive improvements come at the cost of attacking output? Has Arteta tipped the balance too far?
That the Spaniard continues to switch between three and four-man defences and appears undecided on his best XI suggests he, too, is not happy.
Arteta clearly favours certain patterns of play — see the carbon copy goals Aubameyang scored against Chelsea, Liverpool and Fulham — but could he be too prescriptive?
Talk of “non-negotiables” won over supporters fed up of sloppy play and ill discipline. Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi have found out what that means, but is Arteta too strict?
Clearly, something is not right. The overwhelming characteristic of Arsenal lately is an abundance of sterile possession.
The numbers back that up. They rank fifth for passes and seventh for touches, so they have plenty of the ball. And they are 17th for being dispossessed, so they can keep it.
The problem, as their lack of goals and shots shows, is that they struggle — or are reluctant to — to do much with it.
It is safe, low-risk football. Maybe that is because they are set up too defensively. Maybe Arteta’s instructions allow too little room for expression.
Maybe they have become scared to try things. Maybe it is down to individual failure on the part of the players.
Arteta’s initial success shows that he is a good judge and will rightly buy him time to get his team back on course.
Arsenal have improved under him, that is not in question, and he deserves credit and faith.
But they are in danger of becoming even more of a cup team; capable of big wins in one-off games but unable to despatch the rank and file.
Until they solve their attacking problems, the Champions League return that holds the key to Arsenal becoming a consistent force again will remain out of reach.