It was only three years ago that Portsmouth were not playing a League match on FA Cup semi-final weekend. Avram Grant's side, including internationals such as Kevin-Prince Boateng, John Utaka and David James, were instead beating Spurs in front of 90,000 at Wembley en route to the final against Chelsea.
Yesterday, in another part of west London, they let slip a 2-1 lead before losing to Brentford in front of 9,149 people, with not a single survivor from that victory over Spurs in their team.
The result gives Guy Whittingham's side little chance of avoiding a third successive relegation, but, this season has been about much more than staying up; the club's very existence has been at stake.
Should Portsmouth somehow escape the bottom four it may only be a stay of execution, given the likelihood of a 10-point deduction when they exit administration. Yet last Wednesday's deal at the High Court between the club's administrators and Balram Chainrai, the former owner, has at least paved the way for the Portsmouth Supporters' Trust to take control and save the club from liquidation.
If the new owners require any inspiration as to what such a move can achieve, they need look no further than their opposition. Brentford's supporters' trust, Bees United, rescued their club from the threat of administration in 2005 and only relinquished control last summer to Matthew Benham, a lifelong fan who had already invested several million pounds.
With Benham's backing, Brentford have been transformed into promotion contenders under the shrewd stewardship of Uwe Rösler. His side consists of experienced performers at League One level, combined with some promising Premier League cast-offs.
One of the former, Bradley Wright-Phillips, put them ahead after Simon Eastwood failed to hold Shaleum Logan's 21st-minute cross. But Portsmouth were soon level when David Connolly curled home a shot from just inside the box, and Shaun Cooper put the visitors in charge early in the second half with a bobbling effort into the bottom corner.
With their place on the heels of the automatic promotion contenders at stake, Brentford were stung into action. Wright-Phillips equalised from close range before Clayton Donaldson broke clear with four minutes left and beat Eastwood with an unerring finish.
The goal ended Portsmouth's five-match unbeaten run but was far from their most significant result this week. "We own our own club," sang the visiting fans. For them, relegation is clearly not the worst-case scenario.
Brentford (4-4-2): Moore; Logan, Craig, Dean, Bidwell; Douglas (Reeves, 63), Diagouraga, Forshaw (Trotta, 74), Saunders (Hodson, 64); Donaldson, Wright-Phillips.
Portsmouth (4-4-2): Eastwood; Butler, Sodje, Gyepes, Moutaouakil; Ertl, Cooper (Maloney, 88), Wallace, Racon; Connolly, Agyemang (Akinde, 74).
Referee Jeremy Simpson.Reuse content