Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill admitted Jonny Evans was "stupid" to get himself sent off against Azerbaijan, but has plenty of other issues to deal with after seeing his side slump to another humbling defeat.
If fans thought things could only get better after Northern Ireland's 3-2 defeat at lowly Luxembourg last month then Baku held fresh horrors as the home team ran out 2-0 winners.
O'Neill's side had the better of things in the first 45 minutes but, as so often in this World Cup qualifying campaign, were let down by their finishing and went into the break level.
That was as good as it got, with Rufat Dadasov putting Azerbaijan ahead in the 58th minute and Mahir Shukurov converting an injury-time free-kick after Evans was dismissed for a messy challenge.
The Manchester United man will now miss the final Group F match in Israel, as will defensive partner Gareth McAuley and Oliver Norwood, who each picked up their second yellow cards of the campaign.
"Jonny has admitted it was frustration so that was stupid for a player of his level and the level he plays at with Manchester United. He should know better," said O'Neill.
"You could see frustration creeping into the players as the game went on, not only towards the opposition but also to the referee.
"We have to learn to control that. And as for Gareth, anything for dissent is inexcusable, simple as that.
"But for a team like us, who who have committed virtually the fewest fouls in Europe, to have the disciplinary record we have is a bit of a joke."
"Jonny has admitted it was frustration so that was stupid for a player of his level" - Michael O'Neill
O'Neill read his side the riot act when they were turned over in Luxembourg but was more measured this time, perhaps a sign that he is getting used to a chronic inability to put away so-called minnows.
His side have taken just two points from a possible 12 against their lowest-ranked opponents, half of the amount they have gathered from games against Portugal and Russia.
"It's another harsh lesson, the players have made it difficult for themselves in this campaign," he said.
"I'm not going to turn around and say we've been progressing at a rate of knots. We've progressing in small steps and taking a few setbacks along the way. This was another one.
"Some of out performances have been good but we just have to live with the results and they've been poor, there's no getting away from that."
O'Neill was unhappy with what he deemed to be time-wasting tactics from the home side and also lashed out at the referee for not taking more control of the issue.
He claimed Azerbaijan boss Berti Vogts apologised after the match, but the German coach had a different view of things: "No, of course I did not apologise. I said, 'good luck in Israel'. Why would I apologise?
"We are very happy, especially with our second half.
"In the second half we played very, very good football and were the best team.
"The atmosphere was wonderful. It was our first win in the qualifiers... great for the team and for the fans."