Sale director of rugby Kingsley Jones was left contemplating a relegation fight and the lowest point of his career after a devastating defeat by Leeds at Edgeley Park.
A thundering all-round performance from Ceiron Thomas led the visitors to a 19-10 victory - their first ever win over Sale in 18 attempts. The Welshman kicked 14 of the points as well as instigating the crucial try for substitute scrum-half Scott Mathie.
Sale would have surged up to sixth with victory but defeat means a period of soul-searching for Jones and his squad. "It is probably the lowest point in my playing or coaching career. That is what it feels like right now but we have got to face up to it," said Jones after the defeat.
"There are no excuses and we have to face up to it. We were at home and we have enough quality players.
"It was a disappointing result and a disappointing performance. The best side won.
"It is just not acceptable. That is the reality.
"Tonight was a critical game in our season. It is going to be interesting to see how we respond. It's hit me really hard.
"It does not get much lower than losing at home to a team bottom of the league.
"We are looking over our shoulders now for the next six or eight weeks. It is going to go down to the wire and we are not out of the race."