The message from the PA system could not have been clearer after Tottenham flopped once again on the day the transfer window opened. “Let’s Get Down to Business,” Tiesto boomed out around this state-of-the-art arena which suddenly seems a couple short of the players Spurs need to grace the pitch.
For the seventh time in a row in the Premier League, Spurs failed to turn up from the start and were the first to concede. Only this time there was no way back to hide an alarming slide in fortunes.
And when the final whistle eventually blew, the DJ could not get the stylus down quick enough to halt the loud boos coming from all bar one corner the stadium.
The same jeering had greeted each of the substitutions Antonio Conte made in turn until Djed Spence was finally brought on – although the belief that a 22-year-old replacement right-back is some sort of hero is a measure of the dire straits the club presently finds itself.
But then the mask had temporarily slipped on the team’s more traditional heroes – and in the case of Heung-Min Son, disappeared completely. In the first game without the support for his cheekbone he was more Peter Parker than Spiderman, while a fluffed left-foot volley by Harry Kane late in the game suggested he too had left his cape at the cleaners.
Injury to Richarlison was compounded by the unexpected absence of Dejan Kulusevski. It left Tottenham lacking in invention and desperately short of reinforcements from the bench.
Aston Villa, still finding their feet under Unai Emery, simply did a job on them. They kept their shape, worked hard and effectively in midfield, and tried to unsettle their opponents with pace and a willingness to get stuck in.
They stifled Spurs for the first half and restricted them to one Kane half-chance header which Ashley Young did well to clear off the line. Then they simply chose their moments to expose a defensive weakness which continues to undermine Spurs’ hopes of a Champions League finish come the end of the season.
With the club set up off the pitch for a regular ride on that particular gravy train, Levy looks like being forced to invest again this month to have a hope of booking a ticket.
Hugo Lloris, questioned at the World Cup, was undoubtedly to blame for Villa’s opener – a Douglas Luiz drive bouncing off his chest to allow Ollie Watkins to tidy the rebound up to Emiliano Buendia to fire into the corner.
Then a lack of pace was exposed by a John McGinn pass to Luiz, whose collection on the run was perfectly collected by Luiz and flicked confidently past the exposed Lloris.
Things could have been worse as only a last-gasp tackle back by Matt Doherty prevented Watkins from making in three.
With Eric Dier dropped to the bench after his horror slice against Brentford, there is a big hole in the centre of that Tottenham defence which also could do with some attention this month.
Last January, the double-signing of Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur gave Spurs the momentum to climb into those top four places.
Now the measure of the Tottenham hierarchy – with Daniel Levy at its head – has to be whether they can pull off a similar master-stroke this month.