SO, here we go again.
Six years after Hull City, Newcastle and Sunderland approached the final week of a Premier League season desperately hoping to scramble clear of relegation trouble, the northern trio are set for a repeat of that nerve-shredding drama.
Just to add to the sense of deja vu in what is now a three-way scrap to avoid joining Burnley and QPR in next season’s Championship, not only will the final day fall on Sunday, May 24 but, as was also the case in 2009, the Tigers host Manchester United as Sunderland bring down the curtain on their season against Chelsea and the Magpies take on a team in claret and blue.
Crucially, however, this time around is different in that Hull are odds-on to go down and not Newcastle after Steve Bruce’s men slipped to a third straight defeat.
Second-half goals from Nacer Chadli and Danny Rose mean City will head into that final day showdown with the Red Devils knowing that even victory might not be enough.
For a start, Sunderland might be out of it by then. Dick Advocaat’s men need just a draw from the midweek trip to Arsenal to secure their own Premier League status.
If the Wearsiders duly deliver that point to ensure their own final-day trip to Stamford Bridge is academic, Hull will be left needing a favour from West Ham United similar to the one Aston Villa provided in 2009 by condemning Newcastle to the drop with a 1-0 victory over a side then managed by Alan Shearer.
A Hammers draw at St James’ Park will be enough if – and it is a big ‘if’, considering the Tigers have lost their last 10 meetings with United in a run stretching back to 1974 – Bruce’s men can collect all three points on Sunday at the KC Stadium.
One man who insists Yorkshire’s sole top-flight representative can wriggle out of trouble in dramatic fashion is captain Michael Dawson.
“I have said all along there could be a twist on the final day and, hopefully, it will go our way,” said the former Spurs defender after his first return to White Hart Lane since returning to his native county last August. “There is pressure on Newcastle and Sunderland but the main thing is we have to win.
“If we do that, I believe we will then have enough to stay in this league.
“That belief is down to how we performed at Tottenham. If we had performed like that against Burnley (in the previous week’s 1-0 defeat), I am sure we would have picked something up and probably won it.
“Football is one of those games where you sometimes don’t get what you deserve. That was the case against Spurs.
“Next week, we are going to be up against a top Manchester United team. We have to pick ourselves up from this defeat.
“Everyone was down after the game. But we will be back in Monday morning knowing we have one more chance. We have to take it.
“We are all in this together. The manager is our leader. But us 11 players have to perform. We are in this situation because we haven’t performed as well as we can.
“But I believe there is enough in that dressing room to win next week and, hopefully, still be a Premier League team.”
With the away seats in one corner of White Hart Lane resembling a swarm of bees thanks to Hull having given free amber and black scarves to every supporter who travelled, there was always a sense that the game could provide a sting in the tail for the East Riding outfit.
It came via two goals in seven game-defining minutes just before the hour mark and meant for all the improvements made by City on the previous week’s shocker at home to Burnley, the afternoon would end with the familiar sinking feeling.
The first blow came on 53 minutes and at a time when City, who had just gone close through Paul McShane and Nikica Jelavic, were firmly in the ascendancy.
Erik Lamela created the opening with a fine pass that caught all but Chadli wrong-footed and the Spurs man did the rest by darting around goalkeeper Steve Harper before rolling the ball into the empty net.
Considering Newcastle were beating QPR as the giant screens at either end of White Hart Lane replayed Chadli’s opener, it was a damaging setback and for a time Hull visibly wilted.
Spurs, sensing an opportunity to kill off the visitors, duly did just that courtesy of a quite wonderful chipped pass from Ryan Mason that allowed Danny Rose sufficient space to thunder an unstoppable shot past the helpless Harper.
Considering Hull had come closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half when Jelavic thundered a shot against the crossbar and then seen an acrobatic overhead kick just miss the target, falling two goals behind must have been particularly hard to take.
Credit, therefore, is due for how the Tigers continued to press the home side in that final half-hour.
Once again, though, the required killer instinct needed in front of goal from the Tigers was missing.
Never was this better illustrated than in the 70th minute goalmouth scramble that saw Abel Hernandez have two shots blocked by Federico Fazio and Eric Dier before Dame N’Doye prodded lamely wide from five yards out.
Any hopes of an unlikely comeback were gone to leave City praying that the footballing Gods can once again shine on them come Sunday, exactly six years to the day since the club survived in nail-biting fashion at the expense of Newcastle.