With the days counting down until el clásico, it is no longer unusual to see Real Madrid or Barcelona players push the limits in search of frivolous bookings that can clear a disciplinary backlog and get a ban out of the way before club football’s biggest rivals reconvene.
It’s an age-old strategy and a simple one, but seemingly it was a path that Neymar couldn’t stick to.
Arguably Barcelona’s best player this season, the Brazilian forward now faces a suspension for the match that could well decide where La Liga’s title is headed.
It was not supposed to be like this.
Neymar was booked twice as his team trailed in Malaga, eventually condemning his side to a 2-0 defeat and his coach to a nervous wait as the league decides whether the Barca number 11 will be slapped with an extra game.
Why? Well, because after being booked for refusing to back away from a Malaga free kick, he was booked once. Moments later he went in late on an opponent for a second. But even at this point Neymar was still playing in el clásico. That is the absurdity of this sequence of events.
It was only when Neymar sarcastically applauded the referee, evoking memories of an immature Wayne Rooney being dismissed by Kim Milton Nielsen at Villarreal in 2005, that the extra suspension became a possibility.
And for possibility you can read: likelihood.
Referee Gil Manzano included Neymar's sarcastic applause in his report to the Spanish federation's competition committee, which will meet on Wednesday to decide the length of his suspension.
But while their decision hasn’t yet been made, the judge, jury and executioner that is the Spanish press have already reached their conclusion.
“UNFORGIVABLE” screamed SPORT, the Barcelona-based newspaper, from its front page.
The focus for now must be on Tuesday night’s game with Juventus in Turin, a meeting of two genuine European giants and the sort of vintage European Cup tie that should be cherished.
It is on this stage, with the clásico almost certainly out of the question, that Neymar must earn his forgiveness from the snarling support, irritated by his petulance.
Should he help inspire Barcelona to progression as he so memorably did against Paris Saint-Germain, all will be forgiven.
If not, there will be plenty more headlines.