Munster have rarely had a more forgettable day in European rugby than Saturday's heavy defeat to the Cell C Sharks in Durban.
After a promising first-half performance in difficult conditions in South Africa, Munster would fall away dramatically in the second-half, with the Sharks ultimately racking up 50 points and a 15-point win to progress to the quarter-finals.
Only once before have Munster held 50+ points in a European game, and it sees their hopes of European success come to an early end once again, with qualification for next year's Champions Cup not guaranteed.
There will be some serious reflection among the squad over the coming days, and Munster legend Donncha O'Callaghan believes that the defeat showcased just how far off the top teams Munster truly are.
Donncha O'Callaghan rues "massively dissapointing" Munster performance
Munster will be disappointed with Saturday's result, with it ranking among their heaviest in Champions Cup history - and they will be even more disappointed that so much of the Sharks' success came from Munster mistakes.
5️⃣0️⃣ not out@Makazole16 gets in on the action! Once he's away, you're not catching him...
Would you want to play @SharksRugby in the quarters? 👀#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/jT2Afkyfwn
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) April 1, 2023
Captain Peter O'Mahony recognised as much in his sombre post-match interview, saying that the team were not looking for excuses for the gulf in quality:
I think the big deciding factor was the breakdown. I thought they were very disruptive on our ball and very clinical on their ball. We were well in it at half-time.
Our discipline has to be a lot better...I think breakdown and discipline were the two deciding factors.
Don't get me wrong, the heat is tough, but we all have to play in the same condition so it's certainly something we're going to complain about. That doesn't decide us not being at the breakdown at the right time...no arguments there.
O'Mahony's interview summed up the mood of the Munster camp, and the punditry of Ireland legend of Donncha O'Callaghan shortly after on BT Sport summed up just how far Munster were off the top teams.
O'Callaghan said that O'Mahony had "hit the nail on the head", and that he was hugely disappointed with Munster's performance, before saying that the team's fitness levels and discipline were way off what was required at the highest level:
I think Peter O'Mahony hit the nail on the head. I think the breakdown was massively disappointing. I think, to be fair, the Sharks didn't need to do an awful lot to get that result, and that will annoy Munster supporters.
I think Graham Rowntree will know where he stands now with this squad. He did inherit the squad, but now he can see that there is probably a bit of a gap. For me, there's a big gap.
Pete spoke about the discipline - I think that all comes from fatigue and I don't think the fitness levels are at the level that you need to manage in Europe. I think we saw that today. Munster need to get bigger and stronger. They're well behind based on today's performance.
Munster will be disappointed to have a weekend off next week, with the Champions Cup quarter-finals taking place, but it will give them an opportunity to dust themselves off and reflect on the disappointment before returning to South Africa for the conclusion of the URC.