But the Latics acting manager says no-one should lose sight of how far the club has come – on and off the pitch – in those three months.
Not least still having a football club to serve and protect.
“It seems a lifetime ago now since we played Fleetwood in the opening game,” acknowledged Richardson, who oversaw a 3-2 defeat at Highbury Stadium before giving way to John Sheridan for the opening league game at Ipswich the following weekend.
“So much has happened since then, on and off the pitch.
“But if someone would have said to us back then that we’d still have a football club, functioning, we’d have snatched their hand off.
“Fleetwood have a very strong squad – one of if not the best in the league – the calibre of player they have is there for all to see.
“It’s going to be a tough challenge for us, but it’s one that we’re ready for.”
The 5-0 midweek home defeat to Rochdale leaves Latics second-bottom of League One, four points from safety – but with a game in hand.
And despite winning the third tier title on each of their last three campaigns at this level, no-one should be in the slightest doubt that mere survival – against such odds – would represent just as big as achievement.
“The realistic goals for the season were trying to bring a bit of sanity to the situation, and to try and stay in touch with everyone else until January,” Richardson acknowledged.
“So that when and if the club gets taken over, there’s still everything to play for in the second half of the campaign.
“It was important we stood up to be counted, and not just disappeared through the trap door, which could easily have happened.
“If the mentality in the squad had not been as strong, we could easily have been sat on fewer points.
“It’s been a new one for me, because for the last 10-11 years I’ve been used to winning.
“But hopefully by the ending – or the new beginning – we’ll be better people for it.
“There’s a lot of disappointment and a lot of other things to manage this year – not just the players who have left, but also those who have stayed.
“If you look back at teams who have been through similar things as us.
“Leeds United went down two levels, Portsmouth went down two levels and almost fell out of the EFL, even Bolton not two minutes ago went down two levels.
“It’s not just a physical task on the pitch, but also an emotional task off the pitch, and we were all determined there’d be something here to be proud of if and when this thing is over.”
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Read More:We’d have snatched your hand off to still have a club – Wigan Athletic chief