Real Madrid sacked their Under 19 coach Alvaro Benito this week after he criticised Casemiro, Sergio Ramos and Toni Kroos in his role as a radio pundit during their Copa del Rey exit on Wednesday.
The reaction seemed to sum up a club in crisis, no longer able to rise above the events around it – a big club behaving like a small club. And it's Barcelona who are making them feel small.
It was Ernesto Valverde's team that served up the 3-0 home defeat and it's Valverde's side who could leave Real Madrid 12 points behind them in the league with three months of the season still left, if they beat them on Saturday.
Gareth Bale, Thibaut Courtois, Raphael Varane and Karim Benzema (L-R) train on Friday
Brazilian duo Casemiro (left) and Vinicius Junior gear up for another clash with Barcelona
Manager Santiago Solari looks over Friday's session as he prepares his squad for El Clasico
The humiliation of another loss this weekend would be historic, not just in terms of how the rest of this season pans out, but how the landscape of Spanish football looks to the rest of the world.
If Barcelona beat Real they will move ahead of them in the overall Clasico victory count for the first time in 87 years. Current coach Santiago Solari does not want his prints on that particular crime.
In 241 games the two teams are tied on 95 victories each, with 51 draws. Barcelona have closed the gap dramatically across the last decade and will have supremacy if they leave the Santiago Bernabeu with three points.
Barcelona have not just played catch-up, they have turned the Bernabeu into their own fun-park, winning 10 of the 17 fixtures played their in the last decade and twice putting four past them, and once six.
Before 2003 Barcelona had visited the Bernabeu 74 times and only won on 13 occasions. Now there are young supporters of the club who have no recollection of a time when their side did not go into away Clasicos as favourites.
They have won the last two Clasicos without Lionel Messi. He was in the stands in the league game at the Nou Camp earlier in the season and he was largely anonymous on Wednesday, but it didn't seem to matter.
The European champions are smarting as the season begins to fold in on itself.
Suddenly the thrilling promise of Vinicius is not enough. He was called up by Brazil on Thursday and admitted: 'I'm happy