A day that had begun with an angry protest march against the Arsenal board of directors was to end, extraordinarily, with a procession for Swansea City.
Around 500 noisy supporters had gathered outside the Emirates to register a vocal pre-match complaint about the club's current direction and, while they stressed that their displeasure did not extend to Arsene Wenger, the ensuing 90 minutes might just have changed their minds.
Disjointed, disorientated and, at times, dispirited, Arsenal completely deserved this 2-0 defeat. Loud boos rang out around the Emirates on the final whistle but, to their credit, some Arsenal supporters did also linger long enough to applaud Swansea off the pitch. Michu scored both goals, in the 88th and the 90th minute, but that still only told part of the story. Yes, Arsenal have had other bad results in Wenger's 16 years as manager but it is difficult to recall them playing, at home, with much less fluency or urgency. They are now 10th in the Premier League and, on this showing, that is about right. They look, quite simply, average.
Before the match, the protesting supporters had loudly asked "where has the money gone" and, with around pounds 40million presently sat in the transfer kitty, the frustration is understandable.
A recent pattern of selling world-class players and replacing them with good Premier League players is threatening to catch up with this team. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but the decision, however financially plausible, not to hold Robin van Persie to his contract looks especially questionable. That transfer fee, after all, was only equivalent to what one year of Champions League football is generally worth.
Gervinho, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud all spent parts of this match in Van Persie's old centre forward's position but were unable to provide the focal point around which the rest of the team might just have functioned. "The point of our game was not there," said Wenger. "We were not good, not creative, not sharp. We had a lot of possession without going anywhere. We tried to change things, took a lot of risks and the game turned against us. It is painful. I can understand the reaction of the fans."
Wenger's own future was also raised, with the manager stressing that he was not considering his position but reiterating that he would make his assessments at the end of the season. "There is a lot of unrest everywhere in the Premier League," he said.
"It is a good opportunity to stick together. I believe the support is there from the board to spend the money if we find the players. We are in this job to turn it around and I am confident that we will."
Swansea, by contrast, were outstanding, with manager Michael Laudrup touched by how his team were feted by both sets of fans. "Seven points against Liverpool, Arsenal and West Brom in six days is fantastic," he said. "Three great performances, each one better than the other one. We knew after the two last results that we could play without pressure and that there was some pressure on Arsenal."
That differing outlook was evident immediately as Swansea took the game to Arsenal with the sort of intricate passing that was once the exclusive hallmark of Wenger teams. Their slick build-up play was complemented with some wonderfully clinical football in the final third. Angel Rangel, in the right-back position, frequently got behind both Kieran Gibbs and Podolski, forcing at one point a wonderful double save from Wojciech Szczesny.
Arsenal's woeful first half was summed up when Gervinho somehow contrived to direct their best chance — a free header from the edge of the six-yard box — against the corner flag. Arsenal did briefly improve after half-time, with Santi Cazorla twice testing Gerhard Tremmel with powerful shots.
Swansea, though, always retained their threat and though Szczesny made further saves from Rangel, Michu and Dwight Tiendalli, a simple one-two involving Luke Moore was sufficient to split Arsenal's defence and give Michu the time and space to fire home.
Arsenal tried to respond but there was a desperation in their approach that was punished in injury time when Carl Jenkinson was dispossessed by Nathan Dyer. He then quickly fed Michu who produced another nerveless finish. It was what both teams deserved.