Eighteen months ago it was the Royal Blues who were celebrating in front of their travelling fans after clinching their place in the UEFA Champions League. On Matchday 11, though, SC Freiburg's fans lead the ovations after their side gained sweet revenge with their second straight Bundesliga win.
Schalke's players had long since disappeared into the catacombs of the Bundesliga's most compact arena. On the smallest pitch in Germany's top flight, there had been nowhere for the players from Gelsenkirchen to hide. "We just couldn't create any big chances," said goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann, the last of his team to enter the sanctuary of the dressing room after giving a pitchside interview, an honour bestowed on Schalke's man of the match.
"Maybe we still had the Lisbon game in our legs, but that mustn't be an excuse for this defeat," he added. While searching for excuses may not be necessary; finding solutions most definitely is. "We've got to show a reaction to this," ordered skipper Benedikt Höwedes. "We gave Freiburg the ball too easily, and for no reason."
One possible reason - but certainly no justification - is that they still need time to adapt to the new system and style of play desired by new head coach Roberto Di Matteo. So far, they have got away with it in front of their own supporters, but as soon as they set foot out of their Veltins Arena home, things have gone awry.
Three defeats from three on rival territory since the Italian took charge does not make pleasant reading. "We've got to take strength from the fact we have not lost at home," said Di Matteo, focusing on the positives ahead of the visit of high-flying VfL Wolfsburg to Gelsenkirchen's most feared fortress in a fortnight.
In the intervening weeks, Di Matteo will have a lot of work to do with his troops, not just lifting their morale after another disappointing away day, but in particular raising their energy levels. One of the most worrying sights on Matchday 11 was the lack of a reaction late in the game, almost as if Schalke's players did not have the strength to even attempt to mount a late comeback.
"I actually thought we were going to carry on in the second half from where we left off in the first," said Di Matteo, who will need to ensure that doesn't happen in the second half of the campaign. "It's been a difficult season from the beginning and we shouldn't be surprised if we're playing catch-up right to the end."