Four straight defeats tell their own story for Omiya Ardija's opponents on Saturday, Consadole Sapporo. The presence at the club of former Squirrels boss Toshiya Miura means that this is a fixture awaited with quite a degree of interest - and the poor form of the Hokkaido Eagles combined with Omiya's own aspirations to be a top-half-of-the-table side this year means that all in all, it is looking like a must-win game for Yasuhiro Higuchi.
His team got the jitters against Gamba Osaka but managed a lucky win, were well beaten by FC Tokyo and then scrambled a draw with Marinos in midweek, but the early season confidence seems to be ebbing away from the likes of Daigo Kobayashi, a player whose career desperately needs a good solid campaign. The Squirrels defence, too - previously the rock upon which the whole side was built - has often been shaky, with a failure to win key challenges costing several avoidable goals.
More optimistically, left-sided injury victim Chikara Fujimoto has returned to the team with a burst of energy, a goal and a pair of assists. Perhaps it could be that Ardija's former captain can take on the brunt of the creative midfield play, while over on the right-hand side Daigo struggles to find his touch. It is notable, certainly, that a Fujimoto free-kick led to Hiroshi Morita's decisive score against Gamba; Daigo's days as a real danger from set pieces seem to be stuck in the past.
Consadole suffered a bad home defeat to improving Tokyo Verdy on Tuesday and the busy recent schedule seems to have been too much for Miura's thin squad. Their 2-1 win over Jubilo Iwata in round six is a long time ago - but Ardija cannot afford any sentimentality when it comes to Saturday's match. To kickstart their season before it goes into too much of a decline, Omiya need a good win.