Following the sacking of Ernesto Valverde in 2020, the team no longer had the kind of manager capable of patching over some of the structural problems to have plagued them in recent years.
Indeed, finding anyone to do that was hard enough in the first place and, while disappointing, trying to match the glory days of the past would be incredibly difficult for even the top managers in the world.
During those days, Barcelona represented the beauty in the game.
Messi, alongside Andres Iniesta and Xavi, were starting to establish themselves as the greatest players in the world, playing some fantastic football to devastating effect.
A clip of Iniesta in particular has recently gone viral.
Tweeted by @RyanDMi2, the footage throws us back to an El Clasico meeting with Real Madrid at the Camp Nou in 2007.
Pressed by the opposition deep in his own half and pretty much stood on the touchline, Iniesta manages to manipulate the ball in the tightest of areas. As one rival attempts a tackle from the front, another tries from behind while a third comes in from the side.
To Iniesta, however, that did not matter.
Dragging the ball away from one Madrid player, a quick turn freed up the smallest of spaces, allowing Iniesta to hit a delicate pass with the side of his foot over the swarm around him, yet keeping the ball in play and ultimately freeing Messi.
"Witchcraft lives in football," said P Scyn.
"That is sheer filth," claimed Gojira.
"Iniesta been the most graceful player out there with Zidane," wrote Ronald Galeas.
Madrid would ultimately run out as winners after a Julio Baptista goal but Iniesta - who would dominate European football from then until his exit in 2018 - was starting to look unstoppable.News Now - Sport News