Juventus wrapped up their eighth consecutive Serie A title recently with a 2-1 victory over Fiorentina. And while the players and manager celebrated this incredible feat in style, their untimely exit from the Champions League at the hands of Ajax a few days before must have still weighed heavily on their minds.
Having spent hefty fees during the summer transfer window, and having brought in arguably the best player in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo for a reported fee of over £100m and a salary of roughly £30m per year, the Juventus President, Andrea Agnelli stated the club's aim to finally win a long coveted treble.
Winning the treble had already been Juventus' goal for at least four years, but the president stated so explicitly for the first time this season, implying a certain confidence that the goal could be achieved.
However, after only dropping two points in the entire first half of the season in Serie A, Juventus were unexpectedly knocked out of the Coppa Italia by a young and resurgent Atalanta side in January; emphatically beaten 3-0 at Stafio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia.
In addition to this, Juventus had not been impressive in the UEFA Champions League, losing to a deteriorating Manchester United side at home and then against last place Young Boys in the final round of the group stages - a match that could have cost them the first place in the group if Manchester United had won at home against Valencia.
Their form did not improve in the round of 16, as they were deservedly beat 2-0 by a solid Atletico side at the Wanda Metropolitano, with Juventus failing to garner any menacing chances in the opposing box. And while the return leg was a masterclass by Cristiano Ronaldo, La Vecchia Signora would soon come crashing back to earth in the quarter finals, when they were handily dismantled by Ajax.
One of the key reasons for Juve's struggles in cup competitions was their midfield, where Juventus can boast various hardworking players such as Sami Khedira, Emre Can and Rodrigo Bentancur. However, it was obvious against the Dutch side that Juve lacked midfielders with an ability to drive the team forward and play defence splitting passes.
Another vulnerability has been the defence, where the absence of Giorgio Chiellini over the two legs against Ajax seemed to weigh insurmountably on Leonardo Bonucci and Daniele Rugani. Without Chiellini, it seemed that Juventus's defence lacked physicality, with Bonucci being much more comfortable on the ball than challenging aerially - as Matthijs de Ligt's goal demonstrated.
In truth, such a defeat had been coming. Juventus had not really got out of second gear in Serie A all season, and were therefore unable to rise to the occasion when the opposition posed a much greater threat.
The lack of an entertaining and convincing style of football, coupled with the unexpected loss to Ajax in the Champions League has sent a large number of Bianconeri fans to demand for Max Allegri to be sacked at the end of the season.
While it would be easy to say that Juventus's campaign has been a failure if compared to their previous ones, for the simple fact that they only won one trophy out of a possible three, and that they had won two for the past four years while just missing out on a third in 2015 and 2017, Juventus have also demonstrated that they have issues pertaining to players and playing style.
It will likely be difficult for Juventus to acquire new talents in order to substitute older and retiring players, such as Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli, due to the amount spent in last summer's transfer window, in addition to Cristiano Ronaldo's extremely high wage.
While there is hope that new arrival Aaron Ramsay will give more dynamism to Juve's static midfield, Massimiliano Allegri will also need to hone his tactics if they are to plausibly challenge for the treble next season.