Paris Saint-Germain appeared to have turned a corner on Wednesday, beating Stade Malherbe Caen 2-0 to record a first away victory in Ligue 1 this season. It took four attempts to finally register that elusive win on the road, but the French champions immediately slipped back into their bad old habits by labouring to a 1-1 draw in Toulouse on Saturday.
Normally when PSG are held, they take the lead and then slowly lose their focus and intensity. This was different; there was no intensity to begin with at Municipal Stadium.
Coach Laurent Blanc's men were flat from start to finish, despite the tactician ringing the changes in the Pink city ahead of next Tuesday's UEFA Champions League clash with Spanish giants Barcelona.
Before getting into where it went wrong for PSG though, it should be noted that the afternoon was not a completely futile exercise for the French capital outfit. The draw did produce an extremely encouraging display from young Jean-Christophe Bahebeck, who was the sole positive on the afternoon.
The 21-year-old youth academy graduate enjoyed an excellent preseason and looked set to play an important part for les Parisiens from the start of this campaign. However, prior to the Caen victory, Bahebeck had been somewhat forgotten and only handed cameo appearances against Stade de Reims and AS Saint-Etienne.
Ezequiel Lavezzi's early injury changed that and the PSG No. 15 went on to provide an assist for Marquinhos' goal on the night. In Toulouse, the versatile attacking talent went one better, scoring an equaliser against the run of play with the visitors' only chance of the first half.
Although the leveler did come out of the blue, it was taken with maturity by Bahebeck, who had latched onto a sumptuous quickly taken Marco Verratti free-kick. A goal and an assist in two games is a good return for a player who has had to endure two consecutive loan spells away from Paris before finally getting his chance in the team. His performance in Toulouse merits further opportunities in the very near future.
Aside from Bahebeck's positivity, there was little else to cheer for PSG and their supporters. Blanc is now under pressure once again after his players dropped points for the sixth time in all competitions this season. Blanc rotated his players as best he could with Barcelona on Tuesday in mind, but he made one or two bad decisions.
The 48-year-old did change the system; going with a 4-4-2 diamond, with Javier Pastore at the tip -- behind Bahebeck and Edinson Cavani -- and Yohan Cabaye at the bottom, but it did not work.
Part of the reason for that was the decision to start Serge Aurier against his former club. Although it is still very early days in the Ivorian's PSG career, he has struggled to impress since arriving in the French capital.
Had Barcelona not been looming on the horizon for the trip to face his former club, he probably would not have been preferred to the in-form Gregory van der Wiel. The 21-year-old started though and made a costly error after eight minutes.
Aurier's inexplicably poor back pass took both Salvatore Sirigu and David Luiz by surprise, enabling Wissam Ben Yedder to dart through and punish PSG. It was a self-inflicted wound and one that could eventually have major consequences if Blanc is dismissed because of the team's faltering start to the season.
From that moment on, the players' typical pre-continental encounter malaise was emphasized because of their inability to raise the level of performance to pressure their hosts in the search for an equalizer. They eventually got it through Bahebeck, but it was far from deserved.
Apart from that, the PSG midfield created next to nothing for Cavani up front to feed upon and the backline looked surprisingly vulnerable without Marquinhos, a 20-year-old who has now seemingly become an indispensable element to this team without injured captain Thiago Silva. Should Blanc have rested the Brazilian?
Perhaps not, considering how much of a liability veteran Zoumana Camara is, but the tactician needed to make sure that he has his most in-form defender fit for the visit of Barcelona early next week so it is somewhat understandable. Silva is not expected to make it the visit of the Catalans, so Marquinhos is certain to start.
The decision to not play Lucas Moura from the off was perhaps more surprising -- given how the Brazilian performed in the Caen victory -- and PSG were certainly worse off without him going forward in Toulouse.
Such a result should perhaps have been expected though. Les Parisiens rarely perform well in the match before a Champions league encounter and this proved that theory right yet again.
The players' malaise was a bigger factor than the coaching changes on the day, because PSG should have been able to put in a better performance against Toulouse with the team Blanc selected.
Blanc's future should become clearer after the Barcelona match next week, but dropped points against the likes of Toulouse will no be accepted unless the French champions follow the result up with a win over the Spaniards. Considering the early season form displayed by Luis Enrique's men, that is going to be a tall order come next Tuesday.