It's been a rough ride for Sunderland fans over the past 18 months or so.
Relegated from the Premier League under the criminal guidance of David Moyes; offloading both Jermain Defoe and Jordan Pickford in the process; the two shining lights in an otherwise crepuscular setting, and staring a successive drop into League One straight in the face.
However, on the terraces of the Stadium of Light, amid the enveloping negativity, one on-field discussion has been more prominent than any other; goalkeeping.
Second-tier custodians are not famed for their eye-catching ability, but Robbin Ruiter, Jason Steele and January acquisition Lee Camp's attempts to be crowned the worst goalkeeper to feature on Wearside, maybe ever, have all been admirable.
This was no more evident than the weekend, when Steele, drafted in as number one in Ruiter's injury absence, received a straight red card during Sunderland's defeat at Queens Park Rangers for punching the ball away no less than five yards outside of his area.
So, with that leaving Camp as the only option for Preston North End's visit to the north east on Saturday, let's take a look at seven things that would fill the red and white army with more confidence than the on-loan Cardiff City 'shot-stopper', or any other currently unavailable option.
1. A Small Child
Truth be told, there is not much difference in height between Camp and a small child, although the latter is sure to have greater all-round ability.
Goalkeeping is an area where stature equates to a lot; holding a physical presence inside the 18-yard box and challenging opposition attackers can be the difference between keeping a clean sheet or conceding 66 goals in 37 games.
Guess which one Sunderland have?
2. A Snowman
The cooler climes of the north east would mean a snowman could probably enjoy a longer run in goal than any of the Black Cats' shot-stoppers have achieved so far this term.
The rotund icy fella would also be about as forthcoming as Steele during an opposition corner and at least provide the players with a healthy snack once its head melts away.
3. A Man Made Entirely of Macaroni
Unless the FA has plans to turn all football pitches into cauldrons of boiling water anytime soon, 'Macaroni Man' could actually work.
His resilient, yet tasty exterior would offer fun for all the family, and, from a distance, his pencil-thin build would not be too dissimilar to that of Ruiter's, although suspicions would certainly be raised after a week went by and there was no calamitous error.
4. A Blindfolded Polar Bear
In truth, a fully-sighted polar bear would be too good for Sunderland this season; however, a blindfolded one would still offer more in between the sticks than has been available.
Not only could the fierce, but strangely cuddle-magnetising beast scare off any opposition striker, but it could also disembowel Jack Rodwell during the week; which is a win-win!
5. David de Gea's Ponytail
Genuinely, David de Gea probably has more goalkeeping ability in his underarm hair than the trio currently earning a living on Wearside.
But as breaking into someone's house and plucking them while they are asleep is apparently "frowned upon" by the police, a quick scissor to the back of his head would do the trick.
6. Niall Quinn
Niall Quinn, like many outfield players; including current Stadium of Light centre-back John O'Shea, has featured in net before, and not just for Sunderland.
In 1991, the former Republic of Ireland talisman was called into goalkeeping action for Manchester City after Tony Coton was dismissed, having already scored at the other end.
Not only did the Citizens go on to win the match 2-1; relegating Derby Country in the process, but the former Black Cats player, manager and chairman also saved a penalty; the same amount as the three Wearside custodians have managed between them all term.
7. Joe Hart
Nah, just kidding.