Juventus's only objective for the rest of the season is to maintain their dignity, according to goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Having begun this campaign following a 10-player summer spending spree, Juve expected to be involved in the title race. But despite at one point sitting second and beating both Inter Milan and AC Milan in the first half of the season, by Christmas they already looked out of contention.
And then seven defeats in 11 games following the turn of the year left Juve in a desperate fight just to secure a place in Europe next season. Three straight wins seemed to put them back on track but they have drawn their last two, including throwing away a 2-0 lead at home to minnows Catania in their last game. That left them seventh in the table and needing some results to go their way if they are to find themselves in the IUEFA Europa League next season.
Their problem in this campaign has been a leaky defence but there is another story: Fabio Quagliarella, who hasn't played since December when he ruptured his cruciate knee ligament, is still their top scorer on just nine league goals. It means they are in line for another disastrous campaign to stand alongside last season when they suffered record numbers of defeats and goals conceded.
"Now we have just one aim: to not lose our dignity," a melancholic Buffon told SkySport24. "It seems stupid but when you wear the Juve shirt you know that 14 million fans are following you. "We can't afford to throw away any more points and we have to fight to the end, that's our only obligation."
The Italian press has claimed that coach Luigi Delneri will be shown the door at the end of the season and Buffon admitted that would likely be the case. "As for the coach, he's in danger and I'm sorry for that but it's always the coach who pays," he said. "I'm angry and disappointed but it's not the right time to get distracted. We have an important game [on Monday night against Lazio] to give some sense to our season."
Lazio are in fourth in the final Champions League qualifying position but they are seven points ahead of Juve. Had the Turin giants held on to beat Catania, then a victory over the Romans next Monday would have closed that gap to just two points and allowed them to dream of a top four finish. Instead, they are merely trying to ensure they earn enough points to qualify for Europe.
Seventh place may be good enough for them, as it was last year, unless Palermo win the Italian Cup. If that happens, Juve would have to overtake someone to seak into the Europa League and sixth-placed Roma head them by three points. But Palermo are also just three points behind and are on a charge to try to ensure they qualify for Europe without having to win the Cup.