I just discovered a new phrase and, as is my wont, am sharing it with the world, or at least that portion of the world as ignorant as I (I quote the OED s.v. hiding “A flogging, thrashing, beating”):
to be on a hiding to nothing, to be faced with a situation in which any outcome would be unfavourable or in which success is impossible, spec. (app. orig. in Horse-racing) that of being expected to win easily, so that one gains no credit from victory, and is disgraced by defeat. Cf. TO prep. 19a [Connecting the names of two things (usu. numbers or quantities) compared or opposed to each other in respect of amount or value, as the odds in a wager or contest, the terms of a ratio, or the constituents of a compound: Against, as against. 1530 PALSGR. 712/1 Twenty to one he is ondone for ever…].
1905 A. M. BINSTEAD Mop Fair xi. 193 They will, like the man who was on a hiding to nothing the first time Tom Sayers saw him, ‘take it lying down’. 1964 C. P. SNOW Corridors of Power ii. 17 He wanted to get out of his present job as soon as he had cleaned it up a little—‘This is a hiding to nothing,’ he said simply—and back to the Treasury. 1975 Sunday Times 8 June 28/2 The Indian batsmen were on a hiding to nothing. They could not win. 1977 Times 29 Jan. 10/7 Derby know they are on a hiding to nothing at Fourth Division Colchester, who have a reputation as giant-killers. 1980 Spectator 8 Mar. 3/1 Lord Soames would have been on a hiding to nothing in trying to exercise gubernatorial authority and viceregal judgment.
It’s an extremely useful phrase; I guess “no-win situation” comes close, but it isn’t nearly as colorful.