Humiliated and embarrrassed.
Newcastle Knights face a week of soul-searching before playing in their first final series in seven years after a woeful performance in a final round 36-6 thrashing by the Gold Coast Titans on Friday night.
With the chance of hosting a home final on the line, the Jekyll and Hyde Knights crashed to their equal biggest defeat of the season to leave coach Adam O'Brien with plenty of work to do to resurrect their fortunes.
The Titans were outstanding, scoring 20 unanswered second half points to run away with the game, their fifth victory on the trot.
Newcastle hopes of taking on South Sydney in Newcastle next weekend in an elimination semifinal hung on the result of the Souths-Roosters match, also on Friday night.
Adding to the Knights woes, prop Jacob Saifiti is in danger of facing a suspension after being put on report for a crusher tackle.
The Knights were up against it at halftime after an error-riddled first 40 minutes saw them trail 16-6 at the break.
Titans five-eighth Ash Taylor gave his side the perfect start when he finished off a movement he started, catching the Knights right edge defence napping to cross for a converted try after just three minutes.
The Knights looked to have hit back through Mitchell Pearce just four minutes later when he crossed after a Mason Lino kick only for the bunker to deny a try after a knock-forward by Aidan Guerra in the contest for the footy.
The luck deserted the Knights again a few minutes later when Edrick Lee planted the ball over in the corner only for replays to reveal he put a toe on the touchline just before grounding it.
Try-saving tackles from Kalyn Ponga and Pearce soon after kept the Titans at bay but the Knights defence, under serious pressure and struggling with the humid conditions midway through the half cracked soon after.
Pearce and Guerra missed Mitch Rein from dummy half close to the line and he strolled over for a soft try.
Lee made amends for his earlier close call when he juggled a pass before scoring after lead-up work from Mason Lino and Sione Mata'utia. Lino added the sideline conversion and six minutes from halftime, the deficit was just six points.
But some woeful defence from outside backs Enari Tuala and Hymel Hunt and skipper Pearce allowed Titans centre Brian Kelly to score just before halftime after the home-side enjoyed a slice of luck following a wayward pass on the last tackle of a set.
The Knights needed to strike early in the second half but were denied again when Pearce failed to ground the ball after a Lee kick into the Titans in-goal.
That was the end of the section for the Knights.
Titans fullback AJ Brimson scored an 80 metre solo effort after a poor kick-chase from the Knights to stretch the lead to 22-6 and then Taylor ran 70 metres to score for 26-6.
It was already an embarrassment byt the time Brimson stepped past some pathetic defence to score his second try for a 32-6 lead.