Galway United's miserable SSE Airtricity League first division campaign continued when they suffered another away defeat against Finn Harps in Ballybofey last Friday.
Crumbs of comfort, though, were found on the trip to the north west with three of United's promising U17 group making their debuts for the senior outfit.
Alan Murphy, currently in charge of both teams, has shown a willingness to give young players opportunities, with nine teenagers in the match day squad for the Harps' tussle in Donegal.
Sixteen-year-olds Colin Kelly and Donal Higgins, and 15-year-old Dara Costelloe were all introduced in the closing stages of the game against Harps, who maintained their promotion push with a 2-0 win.
In the past couple of months Chris Horgan, Adam Rooney, Evan Murphy, Evan Coyne, Wilson Waweru, Kelly, Higgins, and Costelloe have all sampled action under Murphy's stewardship, and the coming months will be particularly interesting both on and off the field as United are expected to continue giving emerging talent a chance to perform.
United have suffered nine defeats in 25 encounters is a clear sign of how much the club has struggled to adequately deal with life at this level. While the campaign has been bitterly disappointing with their record gainst the top five packed with woeful losses, Murphy and Mark Herrick have shown a willingness to integrate youngsters which offers a sliver of hope.
Following the 2017 relegation United were hopeful of launching a serious bid to regain premier division status, but from an early stage this year it was apparent this would not be achievable. Inevitably it has had an impact, with attendances falling as United repeatedly failed to deliver when it counted.
Murphy's knowledge of the underage and local scenes is hugely beneficial and United's record league goalscorer is keen to ensure the Tribesmen can be competitive in the future. There is no disguising the reality that 2018 has been one of the most unsatisfactory seasons in the history of Galway United with significant improvement necessary in several areas.
United's two remaining fixtures against Wexford FC at Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday September 14 and Shelbourne at Tolka Park on Saturday September 22 will give Murphy further scope to experiment.
Following that Shelbourne assignment, United will not be in action again until next February, but between now and then is a critical phase. With the proposed investment by a Saudi Arabian consortium collapsing, United supporters will hope some positive news will emerge at the end of a trying spell.
That so many young players are being included by Murphy is a source of encouragement as United seek to build a solid foundation again.