What a difference a year makes in football.
One year you're on top of the football pile; the next you're struggling to be anywhere near that pile.
That is the plight of one of football's true legends.
The tale of one of football's most storied clubs is quite the opposite.
The 2007 - 08 Season for Barcelona was an utter failure for the club. No trophies, losing the league title to Real Madrid and the loss of form for their best player. Perhaps most damaging of all was the deterioration of their trademark playing style.
Manager Frank Rijkaard paid the price for two consecutive seasons of unbelievable underachievement. The man sent in to replace him?
Pep Guardiola, the former captain and coach of Barcelona B was not only younger than most of his compatriots but he was also completely inexperienced at the highest level of the managerial game.
Not the choice most people thought the directors would make but he got the job nonetheless.
The rest is history.
Barcelona went from achieving nothing to winning a historic treble by taking La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League in barn-storming fashion; moving past all comers with dazzling displays of footballing brilliance that delighted fans and confounded opponents.
(Our) Guus Hiddink's Chelsea came the closest in the semi-finals of the Champions League through, a stifling stratagem of intense man-marking and constant pressure in the midfield but to no avail. To the delight of the purist and to the neutral, Barcelona showed the world that style can have deadly substance and can equal beautiful success.
Not since Ronaldinho's prime have Barcelona won so deservedly the title of everyone's second team.
The single most important factor behind Barcelona's success was the change of coach.
Frank Rijkaard relied far too heavily on superstar Ronaldinho, but let's be honest - who wouldn't have made him the main man with his blistering form?
However, the problem was that by relying on the Brazilian, Rijkaard placed a great deal of faith on his continuing success. There was no back-up, no plan B. No team can succeed without having players on the bench who are able to step up and keep the team rolling along.
Rijkaard's Barcelona did not have these players.
Pep Guardiola's Barcelona did.
Seydou Keita, Yaya Toure and Jonathan dos Santos might not sparkle like Xavi and Andreas Iniesta but they still make the system work and that is all you can ask a player to do.
In addition to distributing responsibility to other players, Guardiola also brought into the team a new philosophy. There was an attitude change from conventional positional duties (i.e. defenders defend, strikers attack) to being an all-action team that brought to mind, shades of the Total Football of the Netherlands of the 1970s.
Guardiola demanded that his players perform outside of their job descriptions and the statistics prove this.
The holy trinity of Henry, Messi and Eto'o each committed more fouls than anyone else in the Barcelona's team except for the ill-disciplined wingback Dani Alves. These three are hardly the names one calls to mind when thinking of great tacklers but there you go - they put in the defensive work to not only take the pressure of the creatively minded Xavi and Iniesta but they also stopped many attacks before they developed into a problem for the midfield destroyers Sergio Busquets and Yaya Toure.
And now we come to the rather sad counterpoint to the bulk of this article - Thierry Henry.
During Barcelona's Treble-winning season he was a major part of the attacking trident of himself, Messi and Eto'o who swept through the domestic and European season with over a hundred goals between them.
Henry himself scored thirty-five goals, twenty-six of which came in La Liga. As one of the conquerors of Europe- and in the hearts of millions- he had proven one of the oldest adages in football - form is temporary; class is eternal - and shown to the world that despite his advancing years he still had the raw skill and outrageous talent to call himself one of the best.
But one year later, Henry is struggling in a way that he has not since his first months at both Arsenal and Barcelona. Despite his incredible talent, Thierry Henry is now 32 years old and is losing some of his legendary pace and touch. The decline started in Euro 2008 when he missed an opportunity to lob Gianluigi Buffon in a game against Italy.
"He would never have missed a chance like that in his younger days"
Commentators said as they shook their heads in acceptance of what now is clear to everyone. Henry is no longer on top his game as he used to be.
Indeed, this season he is slowly making way for Spanish youngster Pedro Rodriguez who was brought in from the youth system by Guardiola this season. Sad as it is, we are now witnessing the last days of a true and proper legend. Soon enough he will be bowing out of Guardiola's plans and stepping aside to make room for Pedro.
But this does not have to be that season. Much like Barcelona now have to show that last season was not a fluke, Henry has to show that last season was not his last season of greatness.