This time last year, Masaaki Yanagishita was in the thick of the championship race as manager of Jubilo Iwata.
On Wednesday he was on the bench at Todoroki Stadium, watching his Consadole Sapporo team being taken apart 6-0 by the high-flying Kawasaki Frontale.
I have always been impressed with the Sapporo fans, and there were around 400 of them there Wednesday in the distinctive red and black colours.
Even as the six goals went flying into their net, the Sapporo fans continued to cheer for their struggling team.
When the final whistle blew, the two sets of players walked over to their respective fans for the customary post-match bow, but nobody was quite ready for what happened next at the visiting end.
Several of the Sapporo fans were waving away their players, angry with their second-half capitulation.
Then a plastic water bottle was thrown from the stand.
The Sapporo players were not put off by the reaction of their fans, and walked right up to the fence separating the stand from the running track.
Suddenly, a fan jumped over the fence and aimed a kung-fu kick at one of the players, in true Eric Cantona-style.
Five or six other fans followed the leader over the fence, and security guards moved in to stop the scuffles. Yanagishita also went over to try to calm things down.
Many people were in a state of shock, none more so than the Sapporo players.
I wonder what will happen now?
Will Consadole face punishment for failing to control their own supporters? Perhaps being forced to play a home game behind closed doors?
Will the fans, if identified, be banned from watching their team for the rest of the season?
Will Frontale be in trouble for failing to provide adequate security for the away fans?
The report of the match commissioner, Kunio Namba, could be crucial in the J.League investigation.
Considering the important role Consadole has in representing Hokkaido in the J.League, I think a severe warning would be appropriate.
The club could always issue its own bans on the fans who took their protests a little too far.
But whatever happens, the message from the fans will have got through to the players, who are at the bottom of the table with only nine points.
Perhaps this incident could be a turning point for the team, and something positive could come out of it after all.