They gave it a good shot but Hawick eventually fell short in Saturday’s 28-43 defeat to Ayr at Mansfield Park.
Hawick did manage to earn themselves their first league points of the season, scoring four tries, but remain anchored to the foot of the BT Premiership table.
The Robbie Dyes, who were widely considered a play-off challenger heading into the 2016/17, are now winless from four games to start the season. Disappointment could easily become disaster.
That, however, is to be determined. What was demonstrated Saturday, with interested spectators Gregor Townsend, Glasgow Warriors head coach, and Vern Cotter, Scotland head coach, was the very significant talent gap between Ayr and a team that brought back much of the nucleus from last season’s play-off contenders.
“We got we what got,” said club captain, Bruce McNeil.
“We weren’t far off in the first-half, putting in a 100 per cent better performance than against Heriots, but in the second forty they had the quality to totally punish us.
“Ayr won’t be far off the title this year. I mean they had Finn Russell in the team and they replaced him with Frazier Climo. Basically a professional for professional.”
If the first half was a hard fought battle to a stalemate the second forty was a systematic dismantling by the 2016 title runners-up.
Finn Russell, Scotland and Glasgow Warriors talismanic stand-off, making his first appearance on the rugby pitch since a suffering a horrific facial injury against Connacht in the Pro12 semi-finals, made his presence known for the Ayrshire club but was not critical to the eventual rout.
With the scores level 14-14 at the interval, Neil Renwick and Bruce McNeil touching down with Renwick adding the conversions, Hawick looked in good shape but once Ayr full-back Ross Curle crossed the whitewash shortly after the restart the floodgates opened.
The second-half was less a collection of big plays snowballing into an avalanche than compelling evidence that Hawick look a long way from the top four.
Ayr bulldozed over a further four-tries against just two from McNeil and Wesley Hamilton to confirm the Greens fate.
“The result leaves us in a difficult position and I totally get that supporters are starting to get worried,” added McNeil.
“At the end of the day we aren’t in this league to just nearly win games or be gracious. Winning needs to happen quick.
“All I can say is that the whole club are fully committed to getting us back on track.
“The next couple of weeks are incredibly important for us, real 8/10 pointers, and if we can get positive results from them all these worries will disappear and we can get back to climbing up this league.”