Edinburgh - Andy Robinson's Scotland on Saturday were once again left counting the cost of a disjointed display against South Africa which blended moments of top class rugby with periods of sterility.
Last week the Scots started brilliantly against world top dogs New Zealand, scoring the opening try of the match and briefly leading before being overrun by the supreme attacking talents of the All Blacks.
This time, they were abysmal in a hugely disappointing first half before surging back in a second half which saw the Springboks grimly holding on for a 21-10 win.
The end result though was the same and a fourth straight loss at Murrayfield was a hammer blow for the Scots which means that they will not be among the top eight seeds for next month's 2015 World Cup draw.
Robinson, whose position as coach has been under threat following the failure to reach the last eight at the World Cup and the Six Nations debacle which saw Scotland stuck with the wooden spoon, said that a failure to play at full tilt for the full 80 minutes had once again been Scotland's downfall.
"Obviously we are pretty disappointed with what has occurred," he said.
"The last 30 minutes was very pleasing, but what happened in that first 50 minutes was hugely frustrating.
"We went into a game with a plan and that plan didn't work. The difference from last week was that last week we were facing speed and this week we were facing physicality.
"And it just showed the gulf of where we are and it is something that we must learn our lessons from our side.
"This leaves us in a pretty difficult position. We had two tough challenges last week and this week and we have not delivered which is what it takes to beat South Africa and we have not delivered an 80-minute performance."
Scotland skipper Kelly Brown said that a rash of needless first half penalties had allowed South Africa to dominate from the off although he took pride in the way the whole side battled back after the break.
"The last 30 mins we knew that it was a case of lie down and die or fight and I thought we stood up and fought and next week we need to do that from the first whistle.
"We need to go back and look at this on the tape and we need to learn our lessons next week - its all about really getting fired up against Tonga."
There were some other crumbs of consolation for Robinson, notably in the impact that scrum-half Henry Pyrgos had when he came on for the experienced Mike Blair after an interception try from hooker Adriaan Strauss had put the Springboks 21-3 up shortly into the second half.
Winning just his second cap, after he came on as a replacement last week against New Zealand, the Glasgow Warriors youngster made his mark, bolting through a gap in the Springboks' line-out on a catch from Brown to score Scotland's only try of the match.
He then was instrumental in driving the home side forward in a final quarter that saw the Springboks pinned back in their own half.
"Henry brought some real energy to our set-piece play that worked very well and it was great to see and there was some real energy there the way we played in that second half," said Robinson.
"Today we shown that we can perform against the two very best sides and we have also shown that that if you don't do it for all 80 minutes they will score points against you.
"They showed us a masterclass in how to dominate possession and how to take the sting out of a side."