Tottenham's alarming loss of form threatens to take the gloss off the long-anticipated opening of their flashy new stadium as they contemplate a season without Champions League football.
Mauricio Pochettino's side stayed in touch with Liverpool and Manchester City for two-thirds of the season -- as recently as February 2, Spurs were in second place in the Premier League.
But they are now 16 points adrift of City and 18 behind Liverpool and a single point separates them from Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea in the race for the final two Champions League qualification spots.
"It's a little bit of a shame that we're not there fighting as well," admitted Pochettino after Tottenham's defeat at Liverpool on Sunday, courtesy of an own goal from Toby Alderweireld.
"We were but in the last few weeks we have started to find our reality, our place."
Pochettino was keen to stress that point, calling his players "heroes" for coping with the demands of a stretched squad, which has had to cope with the impact of fatigue on eight World Cup semifinalists, and the disruption of playing at Wembley while waiting for their new stadium to be ready.