Manchester United manager David Moyes has been downplaying the club’s expectations for the season ever since he took the job.
His predecessor asked for the club’s fans to remain faithful as Moyes settles in, and Alex Ferguson’s plea seems to have set the tone at Old Trafford.
After United were humbled in the Manchester derby earlier this month, Moyes meekly warned the supporters to expect more such pain in the short-term.
But nobody would have predicted that West Brom would come to the Theatre of Dreams just a few short weeks later and inflict another dose of discomfort.
Now, as United prepare make the taxing journey to Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk, Moyes has cautioned that they could well be eliminated from the group stage of the Champions League.
They started well in the competition, beating Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 in their opening group stage match, but such has been United’s season so far, that Moyes comes across as anything but confident in their European ambitions.
"It has become a harder competition to win, with the spending power of some of the big teams in other countries. With the emergence of all the good Spanish players and Spanish teams and now you have PSG – the competition has become much more open than it was in years gone by," Moyes said of the Champions League, accurately yet forebodingly.
"It's been hard for Manchester United as well and progress is not something that is guaranteed," he added, recalling that two years ago under Fergie, the Red Devils crashed out of Europe at the first hurdle too.
"There were no guarantees for Manchester City [who failed to reach the last 16] last year. You have to play well enough and grow into it and, hopefully, keep moving along."
United’s group is tricky this season, especially with them in dubious form. But it will be a major blow to Moyes’ esteem and United’s aura if they fail to make it out of the first round in Europe again this season.
Meanwhile, Moyes admits that while he has pencilled defeats into his predictions for United this season, he never expected another one to come against the Baggies on the Red Devils’ own home turf.
"I didn't expect one to come so soon but I think it's going to be the way," he said.
"I'm taking over a new team, the team has got a new manager and I think there will be some setbacks along the way. But I think there are other clubs having setbacks as well, not just our club. The only one I have to concentrate on is mine, though, and I'm obviously disappointed with the performance [on Saturday].
"We wanted to try to kick on, that's what we wanted but we'll do it next time. That's the plan. If you don't do it, you have got to go again and we'll try and do it in the next game."