Passage into the quarter-finals of the Champions League is meant to be a given for Bayern Munich and their season doesn’t normally start to heat up until the end of April, when the Bundesliga title at times over the last few years has already been wrapped up.
But for the first time since the 2010/11 season, Bayern Munich are not part of the last eight teams remaining in Europe’s elite competition.
It’s been a tough ride for German teams in Europe on the whole, with Borussia Dortmund and Schalke also going out to Premier League opposition by conceding a combined 14 goals on aggregate where neither side were able to score from open play.
Only Eintracht Frankfurt remain in the Europa League too – which could change on Thursday against Inter – following Bayer Leverkusen’s exit against Krasnodar, while RB Leipzig failed to even make it out of their group.
But Bayern Munich dropping out of Europe is rightly held up as the biggest failure of them all, as the Bavarian giants are the only team who have consistently been flying the flag for the Bundesliga over the last few years.
There’s also something about their failure in the Champions League which more poignantly highlights their problems at a domestic level too.
They might be back to winning ways in the Bundesliga and ahead of Borussia Dortmund in the league table, but their defeat against Liverpool has given fans a timely reminder that they still need a top to bottom makeover if they want to return to Europe’s top table.
It’s easy to see why Bayern Munich fans might be looking at their squad with rose-tinted glasses, but even the most optimistic and die-hard of Bavarian would have come crashing down to earth on Wednesday.
Just last season there was still a discussion about if David de Gea is actually better than Manuel Neuer – who missed most of the campaign through injury – as European football’s best goalkeeper, but even that debate needs to be scaled down to get to the crux of their problem.
Not only is Neuer not better than de Gea, or even international teammate Marc-André ter Stegen, but the 32-year-old might not even get a podium finish when ranking the best shot-stoppers in the Bundesliga.
Yann Sommer’s performances this season probably places him at the top of the pile just ahead of his compatriot at Borussia Dortmund, Roman Bürki.
Even the likes of Péter Gulácsi, Lukáš Hrádecký, Koen Casteels and Ji?í Pavlenka have arguably surpassed Neuer in the Bundesliga’s standings.
Things don’t improve too much in defence either, as Jérôme Boateng and Mats Hummels learned the hard way that their career at the highest level could be coming to an end after being dropped for international selection by Joachim Löw.
Niklas Süle is undoubtedly the future of both Bayern Munich and Die Mannschaft, but his partner in the centre of defence still seems to be up in the air.
Benjamin Pavard’s arrival this summer should answer that question at least, as his best performances have come as a centre-back for Stuttgart, although he is more popularly known for his role as a right-back in France’s World Cup winning squad.
But the chance to move Joshua Kimmich out of that position and into midfield with Pavard’s arrival is something which is rarely mentioned by anyone who’s been keeping an eye on the Bundesliga or national team in recent years.
Not only has Kimmich easily established himself as the best right back in Europe, but he’s also simply not cut out for midfield work like he was when he first broke into senior football.
Germany haven’t won a single competitive match since moving Kimmich into midfield after the World Cup, while Bayern Munich have failed to win three of the eight matches where the 24-year-old has played in the centre.
Calls to move Kimmich into midfield are made all the more ironic as that’s arguably the area that Bayern Munich are best set up to go into their new generation.
Although Javi Martinez is entering the latter stages of his career, the arrivals of Corentin Tolisso, Leon Goretzka and last year’s player of the season James Rodriguez have bolstered the club’s options tremendously.
Adding the established Thiago Alcântara only increases manager Niko Kova?’s selection headache, while former Golden Boy winner Renato Sanches offers Bayern Munich some depth.
But problems do prop up once again in the attacking third of the pitch, something which might be surprising to some fans as Bayern Munich have scored 11 goals in their last two games in the Bundesliga.
Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben will be ending their 10-year partnership this summer, while Kingsley Coman confirmed that he could be just one injury away from an early retirement.
Serge Gnabry’s arrival for just £7.2m from Werder Bremen has proved to be a real coup, but he remains their only consistent option in wide areas while Alphonso Davies and Woo-yeong Jeong continue their development on the fringes of Bayern Munich’s first team.
There’s also no one really coming through to challenge Robert Lewandowski (30) and Thomas Müller (29) for a starting spot at the spearhead of their attack.
The next in line most likely to be 17-year-old Dutch striker Joshua Zirkzee, who’s scored 22 goals in Bayern Munich’s various youth teams this season but is yet to make the step up to first-team football.
A summer move for Timo Werner, who looks set to be sold by RB Leipzig this summer, would at least solve one problem for the Bundesliga champions, but in wide areas, they’re still feeling the effects of missing out on Leroy Sané in 2016.
Bayern Munich have been tipped to break their transfer record this summer by meeting Lucas Hernandez’s release clause at Atlético Madrid, a move which will be a huge part of their makeover if it goes through.
But Uli Hoeness and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, as well as giving Kova? some deserved job security, have to dip their hands in their pockets to add even more first team quality to a squad which is currently at risk of dropping away from European football’s elite clubs.