Wellington - Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has not hit the panic button yet but knows his side are in danger of falling out of Super Rugby contention if they lose to the Waratahs on Saturday.
The double defending champions were clinically dismantled by a Hurricanes side playing for their season on Saturday and have slipped to fourth in the ultra-competitive New Zealand conference.
Rennie's team, however, are nestled in eighth position on 35 points and still capable of pushing for the playoffs, two points behind the New Zealand-conference leading Crusaders (37), who are third overall.
The Hurricanes are fifth on 36 points but will be unable to accrue points in the final round due to a bye. The sixth-placed Highlanders also have 36 points but have their fate in their hands.
With points for byes scrapped this year, a target of 46 points is likely to be the cutoff for a spot in the knockout phase.
"It has put us under a hell of a lot of pressure," Rennie told reporters after the 45-8 loss to the Hurricanes. "Our fate is still in our own hands but we have to be a hell of a lot better this week."
Rennie told the Waikato Times newspaper his side had bounced back from a similar thrashing at the hands of the Crusaders before the playoffs last season.
The Chiefs lost to the Crusaders 43-15 in Christchurch two weeks before the playoffs then beat the seven-times champions in the semi-finals before they won their second successive title with a 29-22 victory over the Brumbies.
"We've been here before," Rennie said.
"It will be how we bounce back that will be the test of the character of this group."
The Hurricanes victory was again due to their unheralded forwards, with Jack Lam, Victor Vito and Faifili Levave controlling the breakdown while the tight five laid the platform with a solid scrum and superb lineout for their exciting backs to counter attack from everywhere.
Flyhalf Beauden Barrett also kept the Chiefs guessing with another superb all-round game that has seen many pundits suggest he now has the front running for the All Blacks' number 10 jersey against England next month.
Rennie would not spin his side's loss, saying they had 'got pumped' and finished a 'distant third' in a two-horse race.
"They were outstanding," Rennie said of the six-try Hurricanes. "They played like a side that was pretty desperate and I guess their season was riding on the performance."
Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith was glad his side would have at least another week in playoffs contention.
"It almost felt that it wouldn't be right if we slipped up," Smith told reporters as American singer Pharrell Williams' chart-topping single 'Happy' blasted out of the Hurricanes' changing room.
"We had worked too hard as a group to spend the last three games in the competition playing for nothing.
"I knew we were due for a good one. Nights like that don't come around too often. It was good fun to be part of.
"But ... it all counts for nothing if we slip up when we go to Eden Park (against the Blues on Saturday)."