IN THE wake of this latest setback for the Cornish Pirates, I was asked what excuses Ian Davies had offered "this time" for the defeat.
It was a slightly disparaging remark and in answer to the question, the Pirates boss didn't offer any, to be fair.
After several years of riding the crest of a wave, arguably punching above their weight, and producing a raft of memorable results and players, the Pirates are going through a transition. You might prefer to call it a slump, but it happens to all clubs at all levels of every sport sooner or later.
Davies has a tough job, which probably became even harder with the departure of Harvey Biljon to Jersey at the start of the year, and he doesn't have the biggest back room team in the world to help him do it.
That said, in all the many times I have spoken to the Pirates Director of Rugby over the years, I have never seen him as somebody who makes excuses when the going gets tough. You tend to get straight answers to straight questions, which is just what sports commentators want.
The unfortunate thing for the Pirates is that all the early season optimism and enthusiasm in the camp has dissipated into muddy pitches up and down the country during the winter, and results have tailed off.
Right now, just when the team need to be picking up some momentum to take into a huge British & Irish Cup quarter-final against Pontypridd, they are collectively off the boil. To make matters worse, it is contract re-negotiation time for many players and in any walk of life that can have a telling effect.
Chris Stirling always used to tell me how much he hated this time of year when he had to deal with the sometimes unreasonable demands of agents and also tell some players that they no longer had a job with the club. But while he took care of those affairs, he had two coaches to run the team.
For Davies, who admits that he likes to be hands-on in every facet of running the team, the workload is pretty much all his. Biljon has not been replaced and while he has characteristically offered no excuses, I'm sure he would welcome an assistant of the right calibre.
Having senior players on hand such as the likes of Paver, Elloway, Cattle and Morgan, to name but four, is always helpful, but as any player will tell you, the transition from playing to coaching is a challenging one.
The reality is that the great Pirates team of recent years has gone and the challenge for the squad now is to get back to winning ways and remain competitive for the rest of the season.
All is not lost, as victory in the cup over the Welshmen, no mean feat in itself if the Pirates can pull it off, hands the club a guaranteed home semi-final.
That is the carrot. Now all Davies has to do is find the right length of stick on the training ground.