The Sharks put in a forgettable performance in crashing to a first tour defeat against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.
As it happened: Brumbies v Sharks
The Brumbies won 24-17 after leading 10-3 at half-time.
The Sharks, touted by friend and foe pre-season as contenders to go deep in this year's tournament, now face the stark reality of their season unravelling in spectacular fashion.
After four matches the Sharks boast a meagre return of one win - over the lowly 'every team will beat them' Sunwolves - and three defeats.
Furthermore, the Sharks now go on to play the vastly superior Rebels side, before crossing the Tasman Sea to New Zealand to tackle the Blues and Hurricanes.
In their first home match of the season, the Brumbies, a shadow of their predecessors who sipped Super Rugby title champagne in 2001 and 2004, scored two tries through wings Lausii Taliauli and Henry Speight, while flyhalf Wharenui Hawera added a conversion and four penalties.
The Sharks, who on no fewer than two occasions were up against 14 men, scored two tries of their own by prop Thomas du Toit and fullback Curwin Bosch, while flyhalf Robert du Preez landed both conversions and a penalty.
The Brumbies picked up four points for their victory and moved to second in the Australian Conference, while the Sharks left with a single point for losing by seven or fewer points and remained second in the South African Conference.
In next weekend's Round 6 action, the Brumbies have a bye, while the Sharks travel to Melbourne to take on the Australian Conference leading Rebels (Friday, March 23 at 10:45 SA time).
15 Andrew Muirhead, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano (captain), 11 Lausii Taliauli, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Lachlan McCaffrey, 5 Blake Enever, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga'a, 1 Scott Sio
Substitutes: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Lolo Fakaosilea, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Tom Banks
15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Wian Vosloo, 5 Stephan Lewis, 4 Ruan Botha (captain), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Juan Schoeman
Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Tyler Paul, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Lwazi Mvovo