Relegation was not a word Yasuyuki Konno expected to hear much when spring ushered in the new J. League season back in March.

As the leaves begin to fall off the trees and Konno and his FC Tokyo teammates languish in 14th place in September, however, a new wind of realism is blowing through the capital city club.

After winning the Nabisco Cup and finishing fifth in the league last season, 2010 looked like it could be Tokyo's year. The national team squad for February's East Asian Football Championship included four players from Hiroshi Jofuku's side, with 27-year-old defender Konno leading the charge for a hungry group of players confident after a breakthrough season.