The good news, they say at River Plate, is that there are only six months left of this. Life in the second division has been a long and drawn out humiliating experience for Los Millonarios and they are only at the half way stage. They are already counting down the days for it to end. And not even for the thousands of supporters who traipsed across the country and piled into the Islas Malvinas Stadium in Mendoza at the weekend was there some respite, a comeback, or even a semblance of a pick-me-up.
Despite fears of trouble between the two sets of fans, the two preseason superclasicos - pitching River against Boca Juniors - went ahead. The rivalry is fierce at the best of times, but Boca went into the fixture as undefeated first division champion. And regardless of how they played, or indeed the final result from the match, River went in as a second division side. Boca needed no prompting.
Boca Juniors' Nicolas Blandi celebrates after scoring during the friendly against River Plate in Resistencia. (AP Photo/Jose Romero)
After winning the first of the two clashes, Boca supporters came prepared for the return fixture, staging a mass vigil in the stands for the death of River Plate. There were candles, wreathes and even a cardboard coffin. The team played their part to perfection, once again defeating River, 1-0. 'Vos sos de la B' rang out throughout the match, 'you belong in the second division ', the goading chant from the Boca end.
While River needed a thick skin to make it through the match (and rued missed chances against Boca), if everything goes to plan they will be back in the first division come July. Matias Almeyda has lead the side to second in the table, and they are in an automatic promotion position, two points off the top of the table and two points ahead of Rosario Central (in a playoff spot).
Assuming River win promotion at the first time of asking, they may well have to rebuild the side. Two - if not more - of their promising youth internationals will be sold, forward Lucas Ocampos and midfielder Ezequiel Cirigliano the two players most likely to leave. That injection of cash from transfers will alleviate the club's financial situation, but while certain areas of the side may need bolstering, up front they should not have a problem.
Because while Fernando Cavenaghi (previously of Spartak Moscow, Bordeaux) and Alejandro Damian Dominguez (Rubin Kazan, Zenit, Valencia) rescinded lucrative contracts last June to return to the club they supported as boys (and both hope to stay at the club next year), they are now in illustrious company.
David Trezeguet's decision to join River Plate made news around the world, the former France international swapping petrodollars for pesos, leaving UAE and moving to the club he supported as a youngster. Some 18 years after making an appearance at the Monumental in a reserve game for Platense, just before moving to Monaco, he was in the stands the day River Plate were relegated. Six months later he followed Cavenaghi and Dominguez's example.
It is somewhat redundant to say there is no doubt about the quality Trezeguet brings to the side. Over 240 league goals in France, Italy and Spain (not to mention a World Cup and European Championship winners medal) fill an impressive CV. Together with Cavenaghi and Dominguez, the three could - and should - strike up a lethal attacking trident. Indeed, he took just minutes to score his first goal on his debut against Racing. As the journalist Andres Burgo put it, "he finished like a pro, celebrated like an amateur." The world-class goalscorer transformed into the lifelong-fan within the space of seconds.
Concerns about his fitness were aired in the local media when he signed; however, and after a brief appearance in the first of the two superclasicos , he lined up at the weekend alongside Cavenaghi for his first start. He lasted just eight minutes.
While his hamstring strain may not be as serious as first thought, alarm bells rang out loud. Is he a risk? Will he be able to play? How many goals will he score? Only the coming weeks and months hold the answer.
The injury to Trezeguet was somewhat lost in the frenzied narrative of the two matches against Boca, River losing an aggregate 3-0. In truth there is no team in Argentina that has been able to deal with this Boca Juniors side in the past six months. The team is well-drilled, solid in defense and takes few risks, but clinical at the other end. Undefeated in their Apertura league title win, in the coming months they will test that resilience both on the domestic front and against the very best in South America in the Copa Libertadores.
River, meanwhile, have only one aim: promotion. And although they are well positioned to achieve just that, the prospect of not going up to the first division this year rattles nerves. Paranoia amongst fans and at the club feeds off the memory of the weeks leading up to relegation. Critics point out that they have not beaten any of the top seven. Set pieces are causing havoc in defense, and they're creating little danger in attack. There is no clear replacement for Chori Dominguez if the side requires fresh ideas, direction or creativity in attack. And after the midseason clear out, three of the four center backs in the squad are aged just 20. Messrs Ramiro Funes Mori, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and German Pezzella may possess plenty of potential and ability, but they have little experience.
The next six months will be fraught at River Plate, but they will seem like the proverbial walk in the park if the club does not secure promotion.