OAKLAND -- The anticipation of what these new Raiders might deliver in 2012 died last month, and now even the curiosity is gone.
With Oakland's latest exercise in tedium, a 20-17 loss to young and utterly defective Cleveland on a soggy Sunday at the Coliseum, there is nothing left to see this season.
It's not officially over, but the Raiders are officially eliminated from the postseason.
It's not officially among the worst years in franchise history, but it's officially a losing season -- and officially forgettable.
"Nobody's coming in to save us," coach Dennis Allen said, and not for the first time.
Well, the rookie coach might be spared by rookie general manager Reggie McKenzie. But Allen's status gets more tenuous, as it should, with each devastating defeat.
What's clear, with the losing streak at five and the record at 3-9, is it's time to bury this season. Time to close that book and start the research and homework for 2013.
Some positions should not require more than 10 seconds of contemplation.
Consider the secondary, especially the cornerbacks. Find new ones. Period.
Nnamdi Asomugha left in 2011. It just seems he has been gone for four years.
Consider running back Darren McFadden. This one is fairly simple. If offensive coordinator Greg Knapp is back, along with his zone blocking schemes, McFadden and the Raiders are better off apart.
Even if Knapp goes, it still would be wise
Consider defensive tackles Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly. They have been great and remain good, when healthy and engaged. Seymour, in particular, has been neither this season, and the Raiders must decide if he is worth his massive salary.
On a defense this porous, no player is worth $12 million.
Consider the starting wide receivers. Denarius Moore, terrific last season, has regressed appreciably. Darrius Heyward-Bey, improved last season, also has regressed. If they can't pull it together over the final four games, stick with the script that allows for more of rookies Juron Criner and Rod Streater.
As of now, Oakland has no No. 1 wideout but a collection of No. 2s and 3s and 4s.
Consider the linebackers. Rolando McClain must go and certainly will. Philip Wheeler represents good value and is worth bringing back at the right price. Rookie Miles Burris shows flashes of promise and deserves a closer look.
There is no legitimate thumper, nor is there a sideline-to-sideline tackler.
Consider, too, quarterback Carson Palmer, who on Sunday was as inconsistent as he has been for most of this season. He was betrayed by some of his receivers, who dropped perfectly good passes. All Raiders hope was crushed when Palmer short-armed a deep pass to Criner and was intercepted by Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown.
Palmer almost certainly will return, as he should. He's no longer elite, but he remains, for now, among the league's top 15 quarterbacks. In the right offense and with a talented supporting cast, he won't be the reason the Raiders lose.
No one is absolutely safe. No coach or player, with the possible exception of kicker Sebastian Janikowski, has done enough this season to be regarded as untouchable.
It's time for the Raiders and their fans to put 2012 in a shredder and look ahead, holding out hope for an offseason productive enough to rebuild anticipation by next September, their next opportunity to post a winning record.
It's time for each coach to search the corners of his mind for those unused molecules of creativity, and it's time for each player to summon whatever pride and dignity he can in hopes of fluffing his résumé.
They can't possibly want to showcase video through the first 12 games, including Sunday's debacle.
"There's nowhere to go but up, unfortunately," Palmer said.
Never mind the deceptively close score. The three-point margin lies. All significant elements of this game were controlled by the Browns, and even they didn't submit a seminar on the finer points of football.
The purest illustration of the despair in the Oakland locker room can be found in the reality that has settled into the eyes of the players and the coaches. It's as if they sense the devastating consequences of this loss, the bitter truth of knowing that if they can lose to the Browns here, they can lose to any team, anytime, anywhere.
Up next is AFC West winner Denver -- yes, the Broncos have clinched the division -- coming into Oakland on Thursday night. A six-game losing streak is all but certain.
Would anyone among us be shocked if the Raiders lost to Kansas City at home, much less to Carolina and San Diego on the road?
If indeed Oakland was to finish the season with a nine-game spiral and a 3-13 record?
So, yes, it's time to look ahead and see who, as McKenzie and owner Mark Davis have put it, really wants to be here and play Raiders football.