In a game the Newcastle Knights simply had to win to have any chance of reaching the finals, they produced one of the lamest efforts in the club's history to lose 46-4 to Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday night.
Just days after it was announced Nathan Brown would be standing aside as Knights coach at the end of the season, his team capitulated to find themselves facing a 30-0 deficit at half-time.
It was the most points Newcastle had conceded in a first half since round 20, 2015, when South Sydney racked up a 36-6 scoreline, on their way to a 52-6 triumph.
Barely 48 hours after that result, Rick Stone was sacked as Knights coach.
Judging by Saturday night's performance, Brown may have been facing a similar fate, had he not already handed in his notice.
The loss leaves the Knights three points behind eighth-placed Brisbane, and four points behind seventh-ranked Cronulla, with two games to play.
Newcastle are still theoretically alive in the finals race, but their minuscule hopes will expire unless either the Broncos or Sharks lose both of their remaining games.
The Knights came close to scoring the opening try, when debutant winger Bradman Best knocked on a Mitchell Pearce grubber kick, but it was one-way traffic from that moment on.
The Tigers ran in tries by Ryan Matterson, Robert Jennings, Esarn Marsters, Luke Garner and David Noafoaluma before half-time, and Paul Momorovski kicked five goals from six attempts.
Noafoaluma made it a hat-trick with further tries in the 50th and 53rd minutes.
It was Newcastle's seventh loss in the space of eight games.
Well placed in the top five after 15 rounds, they have slipped to 11th on the ladder.
The Tigers climbed to ninth, one point behind Brisbane, to keep their finals hopes alive.
Tigers coach Michael Maguire extended his remarkable record against Newcastle to 10 wins from 10 games.
He was also at the helm of Souths in 2015 when they ended Stone's NRL coaching career.
The only highlight for Newcastle was a try by Aidan Guerra in the 74th minute.