The last few months have not been the best for the Premiership both on and off the field, what with the dip in attendances, some thoroughly average fare on show and, most recently, a poor representation in the knock-out rounds of European competition.
Indeed, one respected scribe went so far as to suggest the Premiership's bubble had burst - and that was before English rugby's top flight managed a total of just four clubs into the quarter-finals of Europe's two cup competitions.
For the record, France have nine clubs into the corresponding rounds - four in the Heineken and five in the Challenge - while three of Ireland's four provincial sides made it through: Leinster and Ulster in the main competition, while Munster must settle for the secondary tournament for the first time in 13 years.
Okay, so Scotland and Italy have no clubs through, but that's pretty much what we were expecting and it hardly flies in the face of European results from previous seasons.
For the record, the Premiership had twice as many clubs in the European knock-out stages in 2008/9.
So what does this all mean and should Premiership Rugby Ltd be worried by their product and the lack of success in European pool stages for the second season running?
Oval Talk, having witnessed countless Premiership and European games this season, thinks yes on both fronts.
Extreme winter conditions and struggling economy no doubt accounted for some of the drop in attendances - 937,909 after 13 rounds in 2009/10 to 896,648 in 2010/11 - but it is the quality of rugby on display that most worries OT and accounts for the poor European representation.
Anyone who had to sit through Sale's 6-3 victory over Leeds in front of a meagre 5,571 Headingley crowd in late October will know what OT is talking about, while mis-firing Saracens' 12-6 win over struggling London Irish earlier this month hardly set the Premiership alight.
Of course there will be dreary matches in every season, especially during the height of winter when heavy pitches take their toll, but a wider look at the clubs on show suggests that only two are moving in a direction that enables them to live with the best in Europe - Leicester and Northampton.
It is no coincidence that these Midlands rivals are the only Premiership clubs still in the Heineken Cup and serve as the main conveyer belts of talent for England's senior squads.
Both clubs have great traditions, and - perhaps just as importantly - both have viable economic models in an age when things are likely to get tougher before they get better.
Premiership clubs are at a disadvantage by having to survive on a salary cap that is almost half that in the French Top 14, but the reality is that the smaller English clubs would be unable to compete with the likes of the Tigers or Saints if it was adjusted significantly upwards.
Ground ownership, or more accurately the lack of it, in the Premiership is an ongoing issue and could result in the likes of Leeds, Sale, Newcastle, and perhaps even London Irish, Wasps and Saracens, struggling to survive in a less protected league.
Promoted Exeter have surprised everyone with their performances this season, and they have the potential to continue to grow as a club due to the fact they own their Sandy Lane ground and are able to maximise fan entertainment off the pitch.
Such an approach builds a club within the community and the return of Worcester to the top flight next season will, for this reason, strengthen the Premiership, and should certainly help to boost attendance figures.
Premiership Rugby wants the likes of the Falcons and Leeds to succeed because it gives their brand more of a UK-wide footprint, but without a genuine rugby heritage, fan base and ground ownership OT fails to see how it will work.
Sale boast a fine history but Friday night games during a long winter at Edgeley Park - a ground they share with Stockport County - hardly matches the fan experience at grounds such as Welford Road, Franklins Gardens, The Stoop or Kingsholm.
Of course, much of the above might be forgotten and forgiven if Northampton and Leicester beat Ulster and Leinster respectively to reach the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup. The Saints at least will be marginal favourites to make the last four.
The intensity of games week in, week out in the Premiership and the often thrilling battle at the bottom of the table helps disguise English club rugby's shortcomings.
But when competition moves up a level in Europe they are there for all to see - and OT cannot see how things will improve without a radical rethink of the league.