Karim Benzema fought bravely against the tide, but Real Madrid put in an eminently unwatchable performance at Leganes in a 1-1 draw on Monday.
Zinedine Zidane’s return was supposed to have reinvigorated Madrid but they are lamely stumbling towards the finish line of a season which seems, at this point, endless.
They are third, 14 points behind leaders Barcelona nine ahead of Sevilla in fourth, in purgatory until the summer sales begin.
The fact that they were playing on Monday speaks for itself. It’s a slot reserved for the teams in mid-table and lower. And that seemed fitting.
The first half was one of the direst in Madrid’s recent history, which really is saying something.
Marco Asensio spurned one good chance near the start, fluffing his lines after being teed up by Isco.
Then, tumbleweed. Even given the low stakes, though, this collection of players should be capable of putting on a more entertaining performance than this.
Madrid are the most successful club in the history of football, and this display was just the latest embarrassment in a season of misery for the storied Spanish capital side.
Los Blancos created nothing until a chance for Raphael Varane came after a scramble in the box, which was parried by Leganes goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar.
The French centre-back should have scored but it would have been far more than Madrid deserved, putting in the same hopeless performance they have offered up for most of the season.
Even though their hero Zidane has returned, nothing has changed. It will not and cannot until the club is scrubbed clean.
The deadwood needs to go. Until now, the media has focused on which players are performing badly to see whom Madrid might sell, but after Zidane’s comments on Sunday, that theory has changed.
“There are many players here that can be sold because they are all really good,” said the coach ahead of this clash.
So now the focus was on which players could put themselves in the shop window – and none obliged.
The one player who showed some conviction was the same player who all season has been head and shoulders above the rest – Karim Benzema.
He is one of the very few whom Zidane will want to keep, along with Varane and captain Sergio Ramos.
Benzema levelled for Madrid early in the second half after Leganes took the lead with Jonathan Silva slamming the hosts ahead at Butarque in the 45th minute.
Luka Modric slipped in the Frenchman and after seeing his first shot saved, he showed the heart and desire the team as a whole desperately lacked to slip in the rebound.
It might have sparked something in the European champions, it should have. But they continued to disappoint.
Marcelo came close with one effort but Leganes gave as good as they got, with Youssef En-Nesyri having a goal ruled out for offside at the other end.
Real Madrid players have to take a good look at themselves after this. Even though they are firmly ensconced in third place, they owe the shirt and badge more commitment than they offered at Butarque.