Perth Scorchers' wretched season is mercifully nearly over. Their final match on Saturday against Adelaide Strikers will decide which of the past two champions receives the wooden spoon.
Nothing has gone right for the Scorchers in a spiral few saw coming for a BBL powerhouse who had never previously missed finals. The three-time champions had perennially been the envy of the competition through a strong culture built around a local core of cricketers playing with a hardnosed edge.
With a miserable record, recriminations are set to ensue in a bid to find out how things went so wrong. Here's a breakdown of Scorchers' problems this season.
Michael Klinger's woes
No one has encapsulated the Scorchers' plight more than stalwart Klinger. He had been a pillar at the top of the order with his measured batting consistently getting Scorchers off to nerveless starts.
Perhaps age caught up with him after he averaged just 14.50 with a dire strike-rate of 85.79 - well down from his average of 32.50 striking at 123 during his previous four seasons with the Scorchers. Klinger's struggles combined with the absences of Shaun Marsh and Cameron Bancroft, for varying reasons, made the top-order unstable further underlined by seven different opening combinations used.
Klinger's impending retirement from Scorchers signals an end of an era.
Lack of power hitting
The Scorchers' calculated batting methods have been exposed, particularly by league leaders Hobart Hurricanes who have a run-rate of 8.65. Even having compiled their highest score of the season last match against Melbourne Stars, the Scorchers' run-rate of 7.20 remains the league's lowest.
Without the Marsh brothers for a large chunk of the season, the Scorchers were heavily reliant on Ashton Turner who delivered in spades during an astounding mid-season purple patch but fell away at the backend to highlight the Scorchers' dearth of firepower.
With big-hitters Sam Whiteman and Josh Inglis unable to have an impact, the middle-order often plodded along with the main offender being the experienced Hilton Cartwright, who has a strike-rate of just 102.51 in 11 matches this season.
Perhaps they could have been more audacious and used Nathan Coulter-Nile, who has a tournament strike rate of 142.59, as a floating batsman. There appeared to be a lack of inventiveness with the Scorchers' batting this season.
Inability to defend
Before their throwback victory over the Stars, the Scorchers had lost six straight matches after batting first in a shocking transformation for a team lauded for defending totals. Early in the season, Scorchers had extremely low scores to defend but there were few excuses failing to defend 177 and 181 against the Hurricanes and the Thunder respectively.
Missing some of their best bowlers didn't help but the normally composed Scorchers were made to look ragged and flustered in the key moments. With spinning allrounder Ashton Agar sidelined for the second half of the season they lacked potency with spin - such a key component in the BBL this season - as legspinner Usman Qadir struggled mightily with his control.
The trickery of Andrew Tye was less effective at the death this season although one positive was the emergence of young quick Matthew Kelly, who unleashed his impressive yorker several times during the tournament.
Lack of continuity
Stability had been a major plank of the Scorchers' success but this season they were constantly a mishmash and unable to get their best players on the park due to national commitments and untimely injuries.
The Marsh brothers, Jason Behrendorff and Jhye Richardson missed chunks of the season, while injuries hit bowlers Agar, Joel Paris and import David Willey, who had previously been in a form slump. Underlining all of this, they used 21 players this season but being out of finals contention early has meant opportunities for youngsters.
Justin Langer's departure
When Adam Voges succeeded Justin Langer as WA-Scorchers coach, most assumed it would be a seamless transition for a former captain well immersed in the team's inner sanctum. However, it has been a tough initiation for Voges who assumed the job earlier than expected due to Langer's ascension into the Australia role after the ball-tampering scandal.
It is perhaps unfair to judge Voges early in his tenure but the Scorchers' sub-standard fielding - they have dropped the most catches with 17 - has been eyebrow raising. A trademark under Langer was the Scorchers' assured catching and disciplined fielding, traits that often gave them innate advantages over opponents.
After a failed campaign, management might look at splitting the WA and Scorchers coaching jobs to relieve Voges of the heavy workload.
Lost local talent
The salary cap, words that cause angst out west, essentially serves to provide parity in the competition. Victims of their overwhelming success, the Scorchers have been unable to squeeze in their bountiful talent and provide enough playing opportunities leading to several talented youngsters looking elsewhere.
A slew of local products have starred elsewhere headlined by BBL sensation D'Arcy Short, who is contracted at WA and was once offered a development player role at the Scorchers before the Hurricanes pounced. It's a similar situation for wicketkeeper-batsman Josh Philippe who has had a breakout season with Sydney Sixers. Marcus Stoinis and Marcus Harris were also former Scorchers players.
Homeground advantage negated
The WACA was a fortress for the Scorchers, who won 25 of 36 matches there and seven on the trot before moving across the opposite bank of the Swan River late last season to the new Perth Stadium. Appropriately dubbed 'The Furnace' for BBL games, the WACA's rowdy capacity crowds intimidated opponents amid a hotbed of an atmosphere.
However, the Scorchers have lacked a homeground edge at the 60,000-seat Perth Stadium and won just three of eight matches there, including last season's semi-final defeat to Hurricanes. The massive stadium hasn't been able to replicate the WACA's intimate atmosphere and the more sterile surrounds has perhaps played its part as crowds dropped off by almost 25,000 by the end of the season.
Despite the Scorchers' struggles, the batting-friendly pitch played quickly - much like the WACA - in a notable contrast to other sluggish wickets during this maligned BBL season.