Sundowns are the only team in South Africa to have won the Castle Premiership title three times since the advent of the Premier Soccer League 1996, but after a dismal season hover a mere three points above the relegation zone going into 2004.
The Brazilians won the league title in 1997/8, defended it successfully in 1998/99 and continued their domination of the Premiership in the 1999/2000 season.
However, this season has been an unmitigated disaster for the Pretoria who are a pale shadow of their illustrious predecessors.
This despite mining magnate Patrice Motsepe buying into the club in the off season and waving around his chequebook as the club signed some of the brightest talent in the country.
Sipho Ndzuzo, Rotson Kilambe, Hilton Jordaan, Manqoba Ngwenya, Clement Mazibuko, Andre Arendse, Siaka Tiene, Franck Guela, Adama Ouattara and Marcus Coetzee where all captured at considerable cost, while esteemed Argentinean coach, Luis Oscar Fullone, was brought in to lead the assault on the Castle Premiership title.
Out went the league championship winning stalwarts Alex Bapela and Lovers Mohlala amidst some controversy.
South African international keeper Arendse was handed the captain's armband as veteran striker and former captain Daniel Mudau lost his lethal goal scoring touch.
All easier said than done though as the once proud club flounders in 11th place on the standings, a mere three points above the relegation zone.
Khabo Zondo has been roped in as a joint head coach because Fullone could not 'find' the winning combination, a move that has proved fruitless too.
Downs have only managed two wins which is shocking for a team whose ambitions for a fourth league title were proclaimed after the arrival of their legion of stars.
Now a mass exodus is looming but what good will that do.
Having arguably the best players in the PSL has not brought them the desired success but releasing a few of the 36 players is surely not the answer to avoiding a drop into the National First Division.
After hapless Hellenic, who have only one win, beat the Brazilians in their last fixture of this year (2003) anything is possible but a revival from a team who was considered one of the big four is expected.
The Brazilians pride is at stake and a finish in the top eight will augur well for a team who were once feared for their passion, pride and piano-style football.
by Shahied Joseph