Cardiff's mini-resurgence of a fortnight ago was a distant memory at the Arms Park this afternoon as Cross Keys secured their first Premiership win at the ground.
The Blue & Blacks' body language at the end of a truly awful match said it all. Owen Ruttley and his team completed the formalities of applauding their opponents into the tunnel and then trundled back onto the pitch to receive what might politely be called a debriefing by the coaching staff.
What Howard Stone and his colleagues found to say is a matter of pure speculation. They had every reason to be speechless after one of the most inept displays seen at the old ground.
Straws could be grasped and commendations issued to the forwards who at least did well in the set pieces and executed several worthwhile driving mauls. Execution of another variety might be the order of the day behind the scrum.
With no cutting edge in the outside backs the side didn't even have the luxury of resorting to a Plan B, preferably a kicking game to keep the ball in front of a worthy pack. But that, too, proved beyond the wit of those on parade.
Straightforward passing of the ball has seemingly gone out of fashion, a sad negation of everything good that has been synonymous with the club's style of play over the years. Forwards might be forgiven for tucking the ball up their jumpers from time to time. Centres who cradle the ball under one arm and invariably die with it are a luxury the side in its current state simply cannot afford.
The greatest variety in the team's performance was in the number of ways they were able to turn over the ball to the opposition. Cross Keys were no great shakes themselves but gratefully accepted the arrival of Blue & Blacks bearing gifts.
In a turgid first half Chris Anderson put Cardiff six points ahead with two penalty goals. Other try-scoring opportunities were wasted. Exempted from the criticism is Chris Stamatakis who appeared outside Francesco Brillante and at least tried to beat the defence on the outside, more than can be said for those selected to do the job in the back positions.
Cardiff should really have been 15 points to the good by the interval. Instead, on the brink of the break, another pass went to ground and Keys' centre Gareth Turner raced 50 metres for a try at the posts, Darren Miles converted to give the visitors a lead they were never to lose.
In an all too familiar second half scenario Cardiff dominated territory and possession but had little to show for it. Replacement Jonathan Williams and Chris Anderson exchanged penalty goals; both sides lost players to the sin bin - Wayne Murphy and Keys' lock Will Thomas - at different times; and referee Peter Rees ("I want the game to be fluid and we'll play good advantages") whistled away as the penalty count for the match nudged ever-closer to an unacceptable 30.
There was a glimmer of hope for the Blue & Blacks in the 73rd minute. Trailing 9-10, Anderson blasted a penalty attempt from the 22 high and wide. Still not believing their luck, the visitors promptly gobbled up another loose pass deep in their own territory and Turner sent left wing Marcus Johnstone racing away for a try at the other end. How Cardiff could have done with someone with Johnstone's pace....
Williams converted easily and added another simple penalty goal in injury time. The final whistle went, heads went down, and the post mortems began. It was the classic bad day at the office. With a quarter of the Premiership campaign already completed, Cardiff have to start winning regularly - and soon.