When your mojo is gone, sometimes you can do no right.
The New Zealand Warriors added to their (and coach Brian McClennan's) woes, as they again let a game slip through their fingers in the dying moments to lose 16-18 to the lowly Penrith Panthers at Mt Smart Stadium.
Their losing streak is now out to six games and surely their faint hopes of making this season's NRL playoffs are gone. If you believe the rumours, McClennan may not be far behind.
Leading 16-12 with five minutes remaining, the Warriors allowed Penrith centre Travis Robinson scramble across for a try, which was subsequently converted by five-eighth Lachlan Coote for victory.
Afterwards, stand-in skipper Manu Vatuvei, celebrating his 150th outing for the Warriors, was at a loss to explain yet another wasted opportunity to reclaim credibility.
"We're disappointed," he told SKY Sport. "Nothing can explain what we're feeling at the moment.
"We let that game go and have to focus on next week now."
The Warriors struck first when five-eighth James Maloney put a grubber kick through to the in-goal area, Penrith fullback Michael Gordon couldn't tidy up and centre Ben Henry followed up for the simple try.
The visitors were not without hope, though, and got themselves into promising positions, only to turn possession over with the tryline looming. But that error rate was contagious and neither side managed a particularly high completion rate.
Penrith again looked threatening after a bust down the left side, but as they spun the ball right across the field, Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson was lurking to pick off Gordon's looping pass and sprint the length of the field for the afternoon's second try. When Maloney converted from in front, the lead was 10 points after 24 minutes.
But the Warriors have shown an alarming tendancy to let big leads slip in recent times and their cause took a hit when they lost energiser hooker Nathan Friend, after he dislocated a shoulder in a tackle. The early prognosis suggested his season was over.
In the shadow of halftime, after another period of sustained pressure, the Panthers finally got some reward, when Josh Mansour offloaded to a charging Coote in midfield. He drew the last defender and sent skipper Kevin Kingston away for the try.
The teams headed for the shed with the home side ahead 10-6, but hardly inspiring confidence they could maintain their ascendancy. In fact, Penrith had probably created more opportunities and if they could just hold a few more passes, looked like they could yet climb up for the win.
But the Warriors stretched their lead when Carlos Tuimavave gathered a bouncing pass and threw wide to Henry, who dummied and went himself for a second try. Maloney's conversion restored the double-figure buffer.
The Panthers continued to press, but cotinued to find innovative ways to squander their opportunities, until Coote pirouetted out of Maloney's tackle just metres from the line and brought his outfit back within a try.
Sure enough, with four minutes left on the clock, Kiwi prop Sam McKendry made a huge bust up the middle and when the ball went left, Matt Robinson found Travis Robinson (no relation), who crossed to tie up the scores.
Coote's conversion put Penrith ahead for the first and only time, and edged clear of the competition ladder's bottom wrung with a 7-16 record.
With the seconds ticking down, Johnson probed left and his passed was knocked on by the Panthers defence. The Warriors just managed to set their scrum before time expired, but with their final roll of the dice, Maloney was tackled mid-pass and threw the ball 10 metres forward.
"I don't know the reason why we're falling off in the last quarter," reflected Vatuvei. "That's something we'll have to look at in the video.
"The boys are low in confidence, especially over the last few weeks and now losing this game. It's hard, but we've got to bounce back for our last few games."
The Warriors (8-14) trek across the ditch next Saturday to face St George Illawarra, before winding up their campaign at home against Canberra Raiders on September 2.
Penrith Panthers 18 (Kevin Kingston, Lachlan Coote and Travis Robinson tries; Coote three goals) NZ Warriors 16 (Ben Henry (2) and Shaun Johnson tries; James Maloney two goals); HT: 6-10