Appointing Antonio Conte ensures two things that never disappear: intensity and drama.  

The former Italy, Juventus and Chelsea coach is often a man possessed on the touchline. He stops at nothing to win and it is no surprise that his CV is littered with league titles and domestic cups. 

But divorces are often bitter and fraught when the 50-year-old is involved – just ask Chelsea – and while he only joined last summer, Inter fans were left wondering if his next one is far closer than some had assumed a matter of weeks ago.  

Antonio Conte's season started with promise but has become bitterly frustrating for all

The 50-year-old (right) was once again an animated figure on Thursday against Hellas Verona

Romelu Lukaku was acquired for £73million as Conte built a side ready to de-throne Juventus

But having been top back in January, title talk is over with a 10-point gap with Inter in fourth

'I don't want to say too much, as people love to claim I always criticise, criticise, criticise. I don't, I just want to help everyone improve and move forward,' he told Sky Sports Italia in the aftermath of Thursday's 2-2 draw with Hellas Verona.

'The media love to tear me to shreds, that's how they have fun. I'll make my considerations at the end of the season, so will the club and the players. If I have something to say, I'll say it to the club.

'We all want to win, but it's about understanding how close or far away we are from winning. Some see it one way, some in another.'

So, Conte is already making his considerations 12 months on. But how has it got to this? Inter were in title contention at the start of the year and one of the favourites for the Coppa Italia. 

When Conte arrived last May, the club were gushing in their praise of him. With Juventus expected to be weaker than ever before with Massimiliano Allegri moving on, the Milanese club sensed a real opportunity. In Conte, described as 'one of the best coaches in the world', they felt they had the key to success.

'I'm certain he'll help us achieve our objective and fulfil our mission,' Inter president Steven Zhang said. 

'One which has always remained the same: to make this club one of the best in the world again.' 

His reign began perfectly with six wins from the opening six games of the Serie A campaign

Inter were firing on all cylinders with so many new pieces and were talked up as a title favourite

Conte wasted no time in bluntly telling his bosses that the squad he inherited was nowhere near good enough to dethrone Juventus and stop them winning a ninth consecutive title.

The message was clear: get the chequebook out. And when it came to backing their new coach, the owners delivered. In came £73m striker Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez from Manchester United. In came Valentino Lazaro. In came Matteo Politano, Stefano Sensi and Nicolo Barella. 

Diego Godin was added on a free and Mauro Icardi was shipped out to Paris Saint-Germain on loan; that became a permanent deal this summer. 

Ashley Young and Victor Moses continued the rebuild in January while Christian Eriksen, who was able to join on a free come this summer, was bought out of the remainder of his Tottenham deal by Conte's request.  

Compared to their 1-0 Europa League home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt back in March, with Luciano Spalletti still in charge, only five from that starting XI survived for Conte's season opener in August against Lecce.

Samir Handanovic, Antonio Candreva, Danilo D'Ambrosio, Milan Skriniar and Matias Vecino were spared the culling. Fast forward to Thursday's 2-2 draw with Hellas Verona and only three – Handanovic, Candreva and Skriniar – of those have held on to spots as part of Conte's revolution. 

But Juventus came to the San Siro and provided a dose of reality as Inter suffered a first loss

That was a turning point and despite rallying in games that followed, the mood felt different

This expensively assembled side flew out of the blocks and took maximum points from their opening six games.  Thirteen goals scored and two conceded. The huge outlay to back Conte suddenly looked cheap; Inter looked legitimate title contenders. 

Then they ran into serial winners Juventus. Even under Maurizio Sarri, who is yet to win a major trophy in Italy, the squad is packed with players who know how to get it done. 

Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain's goals were decisive in a 2-1 win at the San Siro and for the first time in the season, Conte's men appeared to have a chink in their armoury. 

They went on to win six of their next seven league games but it was almost like that defeat to their biggest rivals was nagging. Four draws from the next six were crippling.  

And unlike the beginning of the season, those doubts began showing themselves much more frequently to the point where when Juventus got the better of Conte's side again, this time behind closed doors in Turin just before the coronavirus shutdown, title talk had been parked for the season.

A Coppa Italia exit and Champions League group stage exit did little to boost squad morale

Juventus have looked their weakest in recent years but have now taken hold of the title race

The gap between the sides was nine points at that stage and Conte was a ball of angry energy on the touchline. The mood in Milan was that he was being too harsh to his players with so many new pieces to integrate. 

Three wins, two draws and one loss since football made it's return is fine – but not when the Serie A title is the target. Conte knew Juventus – even the current incarnation – give up few opportunities to be overtaken and Inter only have themselves to blame.

To put it in blunt statistical terms, Inter have dropped a staggering 20 points from leading positions in Serie A this season. Had they taken 50 per cent of these, they would now be joint-top with Juventus. 

After a turnaround loss to Bologna at the San Siro recently, Conte snapped, reportedly keeping his players locked in the dressing room for an inquest as to what has happened. 

Their title bid evaporated behind-closed-doors back in March but they were now looking at fourth, having been overtaken by a free-scoring Atalanta.  

Conte said after that 2-1 loss: 'I was brought here for a winning project and to bring Inter back to winning things. 

Christian Eriksen arrived from Tottenham in January but Conte is still figuring him out

A 2-2 draw with Hellas Verona summed this squad's inability to close out games when ahead

'Clearly, the victory does not come overnight, but many situations leave a lot of bitterness. You think you are at a level and instead you are at a much lower level.' 

While the expectation is that Conte and Inter will stay together for at least another season, should Conte lose complete faith in this squad, stranger things have happened than him walking out on everything he built. 

After starting with so much promise, a trophyless season for this expensively assembled group represents a grave failure that even the most optimistic fan cannot sugarcoat.