Buxton: Spurs' slide could prompt stars to look elsewhere
Failure to maintain title charge could prompt Tottenham's stars to look elsewhere
The end is almost nigh for Tottenham Hotspur's current crop.
What should have been a continuation of a burgeoning side's journey now threatens to be the final chapter after a 4-1 humiliation by Manchester City yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Five weeks on from trouncing Real Madrid in the Champions League, that comprehensive victory feels as far away as their chances of challenging for any major honours.
They appear far closer to disbanding than they are disrupting the EPL's current order. Whether at Wembley or White Hart Lane, the "Spursy" state of mind refuses to dissolve.
Mauricio Pochettino's once-promising team are currently threatened by the prospect of becoming the latest side confined to the archives of what might have been in North London.
Ultimately, Kyle Walker's summer move to City was the beginning of Spurs' end; the right back was not only the difference between the two teams at the Etihad Stadium, but also exposed Spurs' shortcomings in defence.
A statement should have been made against the runaway champions-elect, that Pochettino's side could still manage to hold their own against their hosts' well-heeled bandwagon.
Aside from a 20-minute spell in the second half, the overriding message was one of inadequacy.
Even by Pochettino's own admission, they had presented City with a 16th straight league win. Christmas arrived early in east Manchester, delivered by men dressed in navy.
Where Leroy Sane was able to supplement City's creativity in light of David Silva's surprise absence and Gabriel Jesus came on when Sergio Aguero's goal threat began to wane, Spurs persisted with Harry Kane as their sole outlet for the entire 94 minutes at the Etihad Stadium.
The England international may finally wonder if Guardiola was right about the Lilywhites' overbearing dependence on him and how much longer he can shoulder that burden.
That frustration manifested itself with a rash second-half challenge on Raheem Sterling.
Real Madrid may not be convinced that Dele Alli is the answer but will be keenly monitoring Kane's future in the English capital.
Few would blame him for considering pastures new. He is not alone, either, as others sharing the dressing room will invariably have similar thoughts of easier routes to the top elsewhere.
Christian Eriksen, whose late strike allowed Spurs to rescue a modicum of respectability, is also unlikely to remain immune to the charms of Europe for much longer.
Likewise Son Heung Min, after his prolific run of four goals in as many games prior to the City hammering.
Pochettino, too, will have personal misgivings about his players as much as the collateral damage the downturn has inflicted on his stock as a prospective managerial heavyweight.
However, regression takes many forms and the Argentinian is not entirely blameless.
Where he once appeared on an unstoppable trajectory, he now allows indecision to get in the way.
With his side already two goals down and under siege, he waited until 13 minutes from time to finally ring the changes.
Pochettino is both the architect of their current downfall and their answer.
He can no longer treat Spurs as a project which is on-track when the wheels are rapidly in danger of falling off.