Nearly 12 years to the day that they secured their last league title, Arsenal waved goodbye to their best chance at another.
A sloppy 0-0 draw at struggling Sunderland summed up Arsenal in 2016 - there was a lack of style, substance and drive and in all honesty, they were lucky to escape the Stadium of Light with a point.
Plenty to ponder at Emirates
Since the turn of the year, Arsenal have only managed to win six of their 15 league games, whereas leaders Leicester City have only failed to win five and the failure to take full advantage where all the usual title suspects have had their troubles prove that things need to change at the Emirates.
However, there is no quick fix at Arsenal. As much as the squad needs refreshing and certain failed youth prospects need to be moved along, that doesn’t necessary fix all the Gunners' woes.
Fresh impetus not enough to calm fans' frustrations
Plugging Danny Welbeck, Alex Iwobi and Mohamed Elneny into the starting eleven had seen an upswing in performances but after draws with Crystal Palace and Sunderland it looks more to do with the opponents Arsenal were facing lacking motivation themselves rather than the Gunners finding form.
A new central defender, midfielder and forward are required in the summer but they might not necessarily spell success, Arsenal already have better individual players than Leicester and yet the Foxes are 12 points ahead of the Gunners and one victory from the league title.
As for the manager, it is time to give him a gold Rolex for his services and let him buy that chateau in the South of France to live out the rest of his days but changing managers again won't necessarily guarantee the success fans crave.
Managers galore across the league
Manchester United have gone through two managers in the three years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, Antonio Conte will be Chelsea's twelfth manager under Roman Abramovich and Liverpool might be contesting a UEFA Europa League semi-final but they’re also painfully inconsistent in the league under Jürgen Klopp.
Arséne Wenger has sadly run his course, for the first time in his two decade tenure there looks to be a serious lack of motivation from certain quarters of his squad.
Theo Walcott cowering away from a challenge with Younes Kaboul with the scores level and Black Cats’ goalkeeper Vito Mannone in no man's land outside his area showed a lack of desire that simply wouldn't have been tolerated by the last team that won the league in North London a dozen years ago.
A frustrating lack of consistency
However, because of the power he wields from his twenty-year spell, Wenger himself will not be an easy figure to replace, there's a lack of people with footballing experience on the board and it's not certain whether the next manager in at the Emirates will be allowed to build the club in their image or have to jump through hoops to satisfy board members who have known nothing more than Arséne Wenger's consistency to finish in the top four.
A change of manager won't be straightforward but it’s necessary because although Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool have made wrong turns in the past, their next moves all look to be in the right direction.
If José Mourinho joins Manchester United, he will make them a title contending side again, Conte will revitalise Chelsea similar to how he did at Juventus and Klopp is brewing something at Anfield with Liverpool playing far better to how they did under Brendan Rodgers post-Súarez.
Add to that, Pep Guardiola arriving at Manchester City and Mauricio Pochettino building a young team that have narrowly missed out on the title down Seven Sisters Road and Arsenal can ill afford to stick with their thinking that fourth place is some sort of accomplishment.
Because if Arsenal are limping into fourth place in a season where none of the so called big clubs have played well, they will be left behind when all of them regain form next season. Whatever happens, next season won't be easy, a couple of signings and a new manager will not guarantee the title - but it could be the step in the right direction Arsenal desperately need.