The paper deals with the analysis of the transformational paradigm of the phraseological invariant of nastupat’ na grabli (“stepping on the rake”) as a system of over 200 of its speech variants presented in Russian media discourse of the first two decades of the 21st century. The paradigm is structured horizontally, considering the types of transformations and the structural-semantic model of the phraseological unit that stimulates its updating at the internal (within the invariant of the phraseological unit) and external (in interaction with other phraseological units, their models and context) levels. The aim of the paper is also to analyze the systematicity, temporal and socio-cultural markedness of the transformations as well as the complex of linguistic and non-linguistic factors that “provoke” the author of the media text to make the transformational updates. The study is based on Russian-language media, Internet forums and blogs as well as online communication. Using the methods of textual identification of transformations, phraseological modelling, and component variable, historical-etymological and linguocultural analysis, phraseological units are considered text-formative elements. The quantitative and qualitative structure of the transformational paradigm confirms the efficiency of its horizontal analysis and opens prospects for creating a dictionary of single phraseological unit transformations.