Not that way back, the Scarlets have been briefly the darlings of European rugby.
The reigning PRO12 champions, their second basking within the sunshine of Europe’s showpiece match noticed them sweep apart the likes of Tub, Toulon and La Rochelle with careless abandon.
European semi-finalists in 2018, they have been the usual bearers of Welsh rugby, the feelgood story that was wanted amongst the all-too-easily accepted mediocrity of Welsh regional rugby.
Wayne Pivac’s workforce achieved a lot and so they did so with type and panache.
Quick-forward three years and people journeys to Dublin for finals and semi-finals appear an awfully very long time in the past.
The Scarlets had their probability of getting again to their first Champions Cup quarter-final since that 2018 journey on a sunny Easter Sunday when Sale Sharks arrived in Llanelli.
The identical Sale Sharks who had certified for this impromptu Spherical of 16 via defeats to Toulon and Edinburgh.
Positive, Sale’s efficiency at Parc y Scarlets was a effective one, constructed on imposing physicality and blistering line velocity.
However the lack of something from the hosts was what was so dispiriting for the loyal supporters compelled to avoid the stadium and watch from afar.
Glenn Delaney’s aspect barely threatened Sale all through the 80 minutes. By way of a gainline contest, there was none.
Sale introduced line velocity, however the Scarlets supplied nothing to counter it. No plan B, simply the identical outdated iteration of Plan A time and again.
It is little marvel then the scoreline turned as one-sided because it did. The Scarlets have been devoid of solutions, cohesion and the rest that might have given them even half an opportunity of toppling Sale.
The worst half is that they might have identified what was coming from Sale. There have been no surprises on that entrance.
In actual fact, the emphatic scoreline and completely insipid show apart, this wasn’t a complete shock for many Scarlets followers.
This wasn’t a blip, however merely the brand new nadir of a subpar season. Performances and outcomes, whereas not as stark as Sunday, have proven the trajectory.
It is arduous to evaluate fairly how issues have gone in these most unprecedented of occasions, however Delaney’s first season in cost has undoubtedly been a disappointing one.
He is not been helped by the Covid-disrupted season – usually robbing him of his first-choice aspect – but it surely’s arduous to flee the truth that the Scarlets have wasted maybe their strongest squad in years.
Towards Sale, the Scarlets known as upon 600 caps of worldwide expertise and have been left wanting in each side of the sport. It is arduous to know the way a lot of that falls upon the shoulders of Delaney, Richard Whiffin, Dai Flanagan, Richard Kelly and Ben Franks.
However how usually do the Scarlets, or any of the Welsh sides, get to name upon all that have directly? The reply is near by no means.
The dearth of time with internationals within the present calendar is undoubtedly a mitigating issue for all of the areas, and the Scarlets aren’t any completely different.
In some methods, they have been the sufferer of their very own success. The 2017 PRO14 title was constructed on these not concerned in Wales squads getting outcomes when the internationals have been away.
Because of this, extra of these Scarlets have been known as up. There are advantages to this, akin to a rise in cost from the union for offering these gamers, however such is the character of the rugby calendar, the Scarlets – and the opposite areas – will really feel they’re nonetheless getting the quick finish of the stick in terms of getting bang for his or her buck.
How the Scarlets handle that – having constantly supplied the most important contingent of Wales stars – might be attention-grabbing. Budgets are solely getting tighter, squads are solely going to get smaller.
What the Scarlets have gotten on the minute is an under-performing squad made up of an ageing core of internationals and senior gamers.
There’s additionally a considerable lack of ballast within the pack to consider, with Werner Kruger, Tevita Ratuva, Uzair Cassiem, Jake Ball and Jac Morgan all leaving this summer season.
So the query is the place do they go subsequent?
Recruitment is not simple on this present local weather, however the want for an openside is apparent with Morgan leaving and Josh Macleod and James Davies long-term absentees.
That bulk within the pack can even want changing, ideally with a second-row who can add some energy. There is also a necessity for one thing completely different out extensive within the form of a extra bodily centre or wing – simply to supply one thing completely different.
A lot of that is dependent upon figuring out precisely the way you wish to play, although.
And recruiting is of venture that hasn’t at all times paid off for the Scarlets not too long ago. Ratuva performed only a handful of league matches in two years on the area, whereas different non-Welsh certified gamers akin to Clayton Blommetjies and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne did not work out.
Past some potential recruits, the place else do you go? Do you part the older names out and rebuild across the youth on the area? Or do you go much more drastic and alter the teaching set-up?
The issues that plagued the Scarlets towards Sale weren’t a novelty. Poor dealing with, attacking form and distribution have been hallmarks of a misfiring assault all season lengthy. The gameplan on the minute is just not a straightforward one to establish.
Somebody has to shoulder the burden for that.
Unsurprisingly, some supporters need Delaney gone – particularly after the defeat to Sale, their second dwelling defeat of the season the place they conceded greater than 50 factors.
There had been experiences of the Scarlets attempting to nab former scrum-half Dwayne Peel forward of his teaching transfer to Cardiff subsequent season.
That is a posh situation, with little assure that Peel finally ends up again in Llanelli, besides, that would not be the Scarlets’ issues solved.
Peel, if he did find yourself at his outdated aspect, would have a heck of a job on his arms understanding the best way ahead.
The identical goes for Delaney if he is trusted to show issues round. After all, Pivac himself was wished out by some supporters – and gamers – after simply six months within the job earlier than he remodeled issues.
One factor is for certain, the Scarlets are at one thing of a crossroads with the place they wish to go.
The attacking sparks that after lit up Europe and the PRO14 have since light into the dimmest of lights.
In the event that they wish to stay Welsh rugby’s normal bearer, there’s some soul-searching to be finished down west.