There's nothing like the resurrected specter of a European Super League to make people moralize about the haven and the non-possession of the Premier League.
It seems, every two or three years, the chatter that England's leading clubs perform a kind of "Prexit" and leave our first flight to play with the continent's elite, grows briefly and then disappears again.
This time, however, it is clear proof that what is now considered the "big six" of the Premier League is getting further and further away from the "other 14".
Leroy Sane (left) celebrates after the sixth goal from Manchester City against Southampton
The city's 6-1 victory was another example of the gap between the Big Six and the others
Marcus Rashford celebrates after scoring the late Manchester United winner at Bournemouth
Chelsea continued the unbeaten start to the season with a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace
Bournemouth is currently in the top six, but the usual suspects are all there
Anyway, five of the six anyway, Manchester United were in deficit, although their victory in Bournemouth on Saturday reached them with 20 points at the Cherries.
The current top three – Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool – are still unbeaten after eleven games. Tottenham and Arsenal are within reach, and leading clubs have a dominance like never before.
The statistics certainly indicate that the Premier League has been the least competitive for some time now, with the 14 players defeating the six less and farther away.
If ever there was an indication of widening the gap, City, Chelsea and Liverpool have a total of 83 points. The entire lower half of the table has only 82.
With the exception of United, which is just beginning to show signs of positive development, all of the big six this season have raised their average score over the other 14.
This table shows the records of the big six against the other 14 teams in the Premier League in the last two seasons and this season. Source: Opta
Liverpool celebrate Xherdan Shaqiri's goal against Cardiff – the Reds are unbeaten
Tottenham won 3-2 on Wolves on Saturday night to stay in touch with his "Big Six" rivals
Arsenal was more ruthless against the teams outside the Big Six this season as well
Take Liverpool, who has won all seven games against the other 14 this season. They had averaged 2.32 points in 2017 and 18, but this seems to be on the rise now.
The team of Jürgen Klopp has lost only points against their six major members, on Saturday was the 1-1 draw at Arsenal the latest example.
City has improved its record from 2.71 points per game last season to 2.75 compared to the "other 14". Wolves were the only ones who could score points successfully.
Pep Guardiola's side defeated Huddersfield 5-1 with 6-1, Cardiff 5-0, Burnley 5-0 and Southampton 6-1 to clear the gap.
Chelsea are unbeaten in their eight games against the other 14. West Ham was the only one outside the first six who could hold her. Their average is between 2.07 and 2.75 this season.
Arsenal, whose only draw is a draw at Crystal Palace, has also scored seven wins out of eight against the lesser lights. Last season, they lost a total of 27 points over those outside the top six, but this time they are more ruthless.
Tottenham lost to Watford, but that remains the exception – Mauricio Pochettino's team has won seven out of eight against the other 14 this season, an average of 2.63 points per game, compared to 2.29 last season.
With this proof, results such as the victory of Brighton against Manchester United could become rarer
Watford beat Tottenham earlier this season, but the Big Six are increasingly invulnerable to the other 14 teams
In fact, only the United States seems to have problems. They suffered defeats in Brighton and West Ham and were held captive by wolves at home.
Even so, their points have dropped to 2.11 from just 2.21 last season when they finished second to the rest of the league.
Of course, there is still a long way to go and inevitably there will be some surprise results in the course of the season, which the big six have under them.
The first evidence, however, points to a league that is less and less competitive. A growing gap between those who compete in Europe and raise money to spend the best players from around the world. And those who do not and therefore can not.
The Premier League has long been proud of its competitiveness – the fact that every day every team can beat anyone.
As the debate about a renegade European Super League flares up again, this is unfortunately no longer the case.