Most things will be forgiven by football supporters but getting the basics wrong, particularly when you play for for FC Barcelona, really takes the biscuit.
Let’s not get too carried away by a marginally better second half performance at Vallecas because that’s the minimum expected from anyone that pulls on the Blaugrana.
The fact is that Barca haven’t played anywhere close to their best level for a few games now. They’ve been getting progressively worse by the week, and the Rayo debacle has to be the nadir this season.
With games upcoming against Porto, Atletico Madrid and Girona, there’s a very real chance that the Catalans could be beaten into second place in their Champions League group and be as many as 12 points behind top spot if results were to go against them in La Liga.
Whilst that’s the Doomsday scenario, it’s difficult to feel positive about the standards that Xavi has allowed to set in.
The coach has consistently spoken about reaction, improvement and having the right mentality, but doesn’t appear to be able to impress that upon the players.
Xavi still hasn’t managed to beat Rayo whilst in charge of Barca, and given that the hosts hadn’t won at home since mid-September, Saturday lunchtime’s game was a match that was there for the taking.
With a couple of possible exceptions, however, it was another awful performance.
Frankly, with the quality that some of these players possess, they should be doing much, much better.
Even if they’re not wiping the floor with opponents, keeping the ball and passing it about shouldn’t be beyond them. Working the defence and moving them around to create space and opportunities.
There was precious little of that on show again, and the inability from the majority of the players to simply control the ball was astonishing.
If it’s possible to put a positive spin on things, it’s better to be getting this type of poor form out of the way earlier in the season, as long as the squad can pick things up in the second half of the campaign.
Vitor Roque’s arrival in January and the expected lift that will provide can’t come soon enough. His more vertical style might bring the energy up front that Barca have been lacking, but Xavi can’t be hanging all of his hopes on that one signing.
The next couple of weeks are crucial for the team’s aspirations and will tell us much about just how well Xavi can motivate this team.