And so, on the back of a demoralising loss in Clones Donegal head to Carrick-on-Shannon hoping to regroup in the qualifiers.
They’re still the side with the national trophy under their arm. But after a promising opening to the championship at a MacCumhaill Park packed like sardines, cynics now claim there’s chinks in their armour and it’s up to Donegal to iron them out.
That was the situation Brian McIver found himself in back in 2007 when his National League champions visited Pairc Sean MacDiarmada.
A last minute winning goal from Brendan Devenney saw off Armagh in Donegal’s championship opener before Tyrone dismantled McIver’s team in Clones.
Donegal made the journey to play Leitrim more susceptible than at any point that year. But McIver played his most daring card.
Michael Murphy was thrust in for his first championship start.
“I was 17, I touched the ball once and scored a goal,” Murphy said. “But I wasn’t near the pace and was off long before the game ended.”
Donegal scraped through that qualifier 1-16 to 1-14 and much has changed since.
Murphy’s isn’t the teen that had some supporters double-checking the match programme for the No 10 that summer’s Saturday evening by the River Shannon.
Now 23, the Glenswilly full-forward was last year’s All-Ireland winning captain and he is Jim McGuinness’s talisman.
Donegal took their first backward step in three seasons when they were comprehensively beaten by Monaghan in Sunday’s Ulster final.
Now, it’s a do or die test against Laois in the fourth round of the qualifiers.
That stat is ringing around the country that only two teams - Dublin in 2001 and then Down last year - have overcome the six-day turnaround after losing their provincial final.
“It’s a human trait when something goes wrong you want to come back at it and do it right,” Murphy said. “No point in sitting around at the business end of the season feeling sorry for yourself.
“We need to just roll into Carrick-on-Shannon and put on a performance. Laois have a bit of momentum.
“We’ve been down that route before. If you can win a few games then God knows you can end up somewhere you mightn’t have expected.”
Donegal might’ve expected to win the Ulster championship but for the first time since that infamous hammering in Crossmaglen in 2010, it’s the qualifiers.
Monaghan asked a lot of questions of Donegal that weren’t answered. Saturday is make or break.
“It’s a defeat in Ulster and that’s what it is,” Murphy added. “In terms of the season as a whole, if you really want to strip it back a game here or there doesn’t make a difference. We have one game extra.
“As for the Ulster final, we’ll park it and move on.”