The 4-0 defeat to the Columbus Crew was the day that Vanni Sartini finally became the coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps as the sunny ways of yesteryear were replaced by the harsh reality of first contact with the opening day of the MLS season.
The blame for that debacle lies partly with the coach himself and partly with something somewhat more ineffable.
Sartini got the team and the tactics wrong.
A central midfield of Teibert and Gauld did nothing to protect the defence and made Gauld a less effective attacking presence and the front two of Cavallini and Caicedo were left stranded as the wing-backs hovered in the liminal spaces that made them neither an attacking threat nor defensive shield.
But anyone who has tried to breed racing camels will understand Sartini’s dilemma.
If you focus on making the impressive beasts more aerodynamic then the humps will be too small to keep them alive in the merciless desert conditions. If the humps are too big then they lose the speed needed to win their races.
And so it goes with a football team. Solving the issue of trying to create chances can often mean that chances are conceded. Tighten the defence and the attack becomes arid.
And yet, last season, it seemed that Sartini had solved the puzzle.
Play Gauld behind the lone striker, get the wing-backs to attack and let the midfield do the heavy lifting while the team as whole pressed the opposition into mistakes.
There was no need to change that way of doing things, no need to try and breed a camel with wheels, especially as the starting eleven should improve once returnees and new arrivals are available to play.
Sticking to what works isn’t unimaginative, it’s how teams succeed.
But what of the ineffable?
The Columbus game and performance has been called a “wake up call” for the players, but this team has been hitting the snooze button with unthinking abandon for the last few years.
Watching the Whitecaps has become an eternal circle of a snake eating its own tail of deja vu. The team play badly, they do better in the next game then fall back to sleep again before the alarm sounds and they stir from their slumber one more time.
The only reason the current side gets praised for the ability to fight back from adversity is because it keeps allowing itself to be put in adverse situations.
Solving that issue will be no easy thing but, as they say in the CRPL, “aljamal yajib ‘an yurid dhalik“
The camel has to want it.