The Melbourne Stars will limp into the BBL finals on a three-game losing streak following their 71-run drubbing at the hands of the AB de Villiers-inspired Brisbane Heat.
The South African great blasted 71 runs from 37 balls, including six sixes, at the MCG on Saturday night as the visitors posted 5-186 then bowled the disappointing hosts out for 115.
Man-of-the-match de Villiers also took the gloves in place of regular wicketkeeper Jimmy Peirson and was involved in a run-out and the stumping of Adam Zampa (1).
Melbourne's green team haven't won a game since they locked up top spot and head into Friday night's qualifying final against the second-placed side - either the Adelaide Strikers or Sydney Sixers - at the MCG with serious concerns.
But Stars coach David Hussey maintains he is unfazed by the lacklustre finish to the regular season.
"The real season starts now," Hussey said.
"It's a new game come Friday night and you'll see a different Melbourne Stars team.
"Fortunately we've qualified first and when we wake up and read the papers and listen to the radio we're still going to be finishing first, which should be celebrated."
Despite the public brave face, Hussey has plenty to be worried about behind closed doors.
Sandeep Lamichhane's unexpected international call-up for Nepal robs the Stars of a key spinner for the rest of the tournament.
Pakistani sensation Haris Rauf is not guaranteed to return from international duties for Friday night's match and his replacement, countryman Dilbar Hussain, struggled mightily in a trying debut.
Hussain finished with figures of 1-56 after opening the bowling and closing out the innings with a costly over that went for 22 runs, including three sixes.
Throw in a season-ending broken hand for Hilton Cartwright and a batting line-up that crumbled against Brisbane - Marcus Stoinis (17), Nic Maddinson (9), Seb Gotch (5) and Glenn Maxwell (1) all went cheaply - and a maiden BBL title seems a tall order.
"There's no complacency, there's no getting ahead of ourselves," Hussey said.
"We're just trying to get better and better each time and put on a good performance.
"Unfortunately that didn't happen (against the Heat)."
Brisbane were seventh going into the clash with three defeats in a row, but can still make the finals with a win against the Renegades at Marvel Stadium on Monday.
Australian Associated Press