ONE STEP forward and then another two backwards as Everton’s season continues to decline towards disaster.
And even David Unsworth’s time in the hot seat has to be over after this.
The interim manager may have to be replaced by another interim manager until someone comes in to sort out the sticky Toffee pudding.
The day began with confirmation that the Goodison club had exchanged contracts on buying the land around Bramley Moor Dock as part of the 200-year lease that will provide a new stadium.
But Marco Silva, for whom majority owner Farhad Moshiri is willing to pay £12million to get him out of Watford as new manager, made it clear he is in no hurry to jump ship.
Then there was Unsworth’s sixth game in charge.
And that was anything but a pretty site, as it were.
Unless majority owner Moshiri sorts this mess out then the whole idea of a 60,000-seater new Goodison will only be half – full at best.
For even in a dead rubber Europa League tie – for the Merseyside club at least – this was an indication of how far and how fast Everton have fallen.
And while there can be no doubt that Goodison stalwart Unsworth wears his heart on his sleeve, the players that took on Atalanta don’t really look like they have their hearts in it.
They fell behind to Bryan Cristiante’s 13th-minute strike and ran about a lot, showing that at the very least they were trying to buy into Unsworth’s work ethic.
But heart is not enough.
The former defender in his sixth game in charge since Ronald Koeman’s sacking has not done enough to warrant a permanent position.
Everton’s players performed like they know he is only in a transitory role, too.
How else would you explain how easy it was for Bryan Cristante to prod home his first goal for the Serie A side in the 13th minute.
How else woud there be an explanation for the way the same player was able to rise like a wraith to head home his 64th-minute second.
Given the circumstances this game was only supposed to be about pride for the side that Koeman left behind, having spent £200m on his grandiose plan to make the club Champions League agitators.
But the performance spoke more about a club and especially a group of players, that have become lost.
True, Sandro Ramirez did get a goal back in the 72nd minute as he moved onto the contribution of Kevin Mirallas.
But around Goodison, not a place where fools are taken easily, there was an air of cynicism that suggested even the most one-eyed of fans are fearing they are staring into an abyss.
Unless Moshiri and theatrical lovey chairman Bill Kenwright who have presided over a comedy of Shakespearean proportions to bring in a new manager get it right, then there will be much worse to deal with than this loss.
Sunday, Everton are at Southampton and that will mean so much more.
Even if the embarrassment created as Robin Goosens scored a late third before Andreas Cornelius collected a fourth just 16 second later was as Blue – faced as it gets.
So bad did it get that in the 90th minute Ashley Williams covered his face as Cornelius – who could not get a game for Cardiff – made it five.
Unsworth is finished. Everton fans will wonder of the club that has never been out of the Premier League may be finished, too.