Racist abuse, fan violence, attacks on players -- on the face of it, English football seems to be experiencing a return to the dark days that led to its clubs being banned from Europe in the 1980s.
One respected English newspaper declared the sport to be "toxic" and "spinning out of control" following Sunday's tumultuous Manchester derby.
"Disturbing ... deplorable ... unacceptable" was how Football Association chairman David Bernstein described the pitch invasion, coin throwing, allegations of racist abuse and 13 arrests made during and after United's 3-2 victory at City.
That the Premier League's two leading clubs could be involved in such a poor advert for one of the world's most popular and lucrative sporting competitions has led many to question its leaders.
The headlines point to a descent back down the slippery slope that resulted in the 1989 Hillsborough and 1985 Heysel stadium tragedies. The latter occurred when fighting fans at the European Cup final caused a crush that killed 39 supporters of Italian club Juventus.
English team Liverpool was also involved at Hillsborough, where 96 people died during an FA Cup match -- an independent review this year found that the fatal crush was caused by the way British police penned rival fans into small enclosures as part of its anti-hooliganism strategy.
But there is another view to counter this week's media hysteria -- namely that football is only now facing up to realities deep at the heart of its foundations to which society has turned a blind eye for years.
What's more, this could be a vital turning-point in trying to eradicate behavior that would not be tolerated in everyday life.
"Previously there were behaviors that we have just passed off as 'Ah, that's football,' " said Clarke Carlisle, chairman of the English Professional Footballers' Association.
"Aggressive behavior in crowds, aggressive chanting, throwing things onto the pitch, certain levels of abuse -- people have been all too happy to say 'It's at a football match,' " he told CNN.
"Now the tolerance levels for behavior like that are coming right down. That's why we're seeing increased numbers of incidents reported, of fans making monkey gestures in isolation, small numbers of people throwing things on the pitch.
"It has been happening for a while but now we are clamping down on these anti-social behaviors."
Arrests at Premier League matches actually dropped by 30% last season, but conversely the numbers for race-related transgressions have been steadily rising.
The world is watching
The images of blood dripping from the face of Rio Ferdinand after the former England captain was hit by a coin thrown from the crowd on Sunday, and then of the Manchester United defender being confronted by a pitch-invading City fan -- all broadcast worldwide -- have been a lightning rod for criticism after a year of damaging controversies both in the Premier League and the lower divisions.
But Carlisle, a former top-flight player now plying his trade in the fourth tier, believes it has just highlighted something that has been a regular occurrence for years.
"There have been many televised games where guys go to take corners and you see projectiles coming onto the pitch, but it's only on a rare occasion that they actually hit someone," said the 33-year-old, who in a television documentary explored the racist abuse his father suffered as a black player in a semi-pro English league.
"There's been a shift in people's acceptance of these behaviors," said Clarke.
"We're expecting people to behave far more reasonably at football matches, we are expecting the football authorities to take control of the situation with all the technology they have available, and we are expecting repercussions for those behaviors, for people to be accountable whether it's a player, a referee, club official or a fan."