Simon Grayson will be spending the first days of this year bringing fresh faces to Elland Road after 2011 ended in miserable fashion for his beleaguered side at Yorkshire rivals Barnsley.
This third straight defeat – a second against the Oakwell club in five weeks – underlined a lack of confidence as Barnsley shrugged off their own run of three losses with a thumping win through Ricardo Vaz Te's hat-trick and a goal by Craig Davies.
It had been a bad Christmas for Leeds with losses to Reading and Derby, and Robert Snodgrass joining captain Jonny Howson on the sidelines after an operation. And now this – a performance that a fuming Grayson described as "shambolic and embarrassing". He said: "There is going to be a lot happening in the next few days. Players have to take responsibility and one or two might not play for the club again."
Grayson hopes to have "one or two" new players in for Monday's visit of Burnley, but refused to comment on a loan move for Tottenham youngster Andros Townsend.
"Bates out" was the chant from the travelling fans, many of whom blame their chairman's summer parsimony for the stalled momentum. Yet some question Grayson's transfer acumen and he needs better against Burnley if the rumblings about his future are not to intensify.
Vez Te was Barnsley's hero despite only being on due to an injury to Jacob Butterfield, victim of Michael Brown's "old pro's challenge" – to quote the home manager Keith Hill – which left his captain with damaged knee ligaments. Vaz Te took only 60 seconds to score after taking the field. Although Davies stumbled after bustling past Patrick Kisnorbo on the edge of the box, the ex-Portugal Under-21 winger picked up the loose ball and beat Andy Lonergan with a crisp finish into the bottom corner. "It was an opportunity for Ricardo. He was disappointed about not starting and I am glad he has responded," said Hill.
There was doubt about Vaz Te's second six minutes after the restart – Davies claimed a touch before the substitute's shot through a thicket of legs had crossed the line following Matt Done's corner – but after Davies's sweetly curled third, the supersub had his hat-trick as he skipped past Darren O'Dea on the left before firing past Lonergan.
With Miles Addison dominating midfield on the final appearance of his loan from Derby, it must have made enjoyable viewing for Dickie Bird OBE, sitting in the West Stand, but for Grayson substitute Luciano Becchio's injury-time header was no consolation at all.
Barnsley (4-1-4-1): Steele; Hassell, Foster, McNulty, McEveley; Addison; Wiseman, Butterfield (Vaz Te, 15), Perkins, Done (Gray, 78); Davies.
Leeds (4-2-3-1): Lonergan; Connolly, Kisnorbo, O'Dea, White; Pugh, Brown; McCormack, Varynen (Clayton, 54), Nunez; Keogh (Becchio, 54).
Referee Neil Swarbrick.
Man of the match Vaz Te (Barnsley).
Match rating 7/10.