England's humiliation in this year's Six Nations continued today as they went down 19-13 to Ireland in a tense affair at Lansdowne Road.
World champions just 15 months ago, today the brilliance of Irish captain Brian O'Driscoll and the meticulous boot of Ronan O'Gara condemned them to their worst start to a home nations championship since 1987.
O'Driscoll scored a brilliant second-half try and man-of-the-match O'Gara kicked 14 points against a wounded England side desperate to get their act together under new coach Andy Robinson and claim a first win of this RBS 6 Nations Championship campaign.
In the end, however, determined Irish defence and a powerful home pack showed just how much progress Robinson still has to make with his team in transition.
This was by far England's best performance so far this season but still the statistics are unforgiving.
A narrow loss against Wales, a farcical home defeat against France and now a tight and tense defeat at a chilly Lansdowne Road.
It leaves England and Italy the only two teams without a win in the
championship and when they meet at Twickenham in a fortnight's time it could be to decide the wooden spoon.
Ireland deserved to shade this match which was thrilling in parts, patchy in others, but always richly competitive.
There is a really good 80-minute performance in this team, Robinson had insisted before this match.
And perhaps there is by the end of these championships, but it is Ireland who stay on course for what looks likely to be a Grand Slam decider against rejuvenated Wales at the Millennium stadium next month.
The green jerseys were quicker to the loose ball and England hooker Steve Thompson was again showing signs of struggling with his line-out throws. Their first line-out of the match was stolen, another went awry. It was another bad day at the office for Thompson.
It was entirely against the run of play when England came up with the first try of the match, number eight Martin Corry picking up a loose ball which had spilled from a ruck and left him in oceans of space to run 30 yards unopposed for the touchdown.
Charlie Hodgson, whose poor kicking thus far in the championship had left psychological scars, was grateful for the opportunity of an easy early conversion.
However, two penalties from O'Gara, the second bringing his 500th point in Test rugby, saw Ireland edge clear.
Afterwards O'Gara breathed a sigh of relief and admitted "we made hard work of it".
The jubilant number ten told BBC: "It's always a special win for Ireland to beat England but we made hard work of it in the end.
"We never take a win over England lightly. We had two or three chances to close the match down but we couldn't take them."
O'Gara acknowledged that Ireland had not been at their best - there is plenty of work to be done - with France in Dublin and Wales in Cardiff to come.
Ireland attempted to play attacking rugby, with centres Shane Horgan and O'Driscoll dangerous and scrum-half Peter Stringer busy and enterprising.
England were organised where so often of late they had been loose and unstructured. In Ben Kay they had a galvanising second-row force and in Corry they possessed the most destructive forward on the pitch.
After 25 minutes Hodgson slotted over a penalty from the half-way line, another notch in the rehabilitation process.
A second drop goal by O'Gara eased Ireland back into a 12-10 lead, but even so England would have felt aggrieved over their interval tea-break.
A minute before the break England right-wing Mark Cueto slid in for what appeared a wonderfully-worked try following a superb cross-field kick by Hodgson, but it was ruled out for offside by Caplan after Cueto was adjudged to have been ahead of the kicker.
A rumbustious punch-up, initiated by Corry and Horgan but which saw a scrum of players join in, saw the second-half begin with a bang.
Too often, however, England were saddled with slow ball, scrum-half Harry Ellis struggling to get his pass away and it was no surprise when he was replaced by Matt Dawson. But it was England who came up with the first points of the second-half after 56 minutes, Hodgson slotting over a precise drop goal.
However, it only served to wake up Ireland's back line, a brilliant Denis Hickie break scything a huge swathe through the white-shirted ranks. The ball went right to fullback Geordan Murphy in the tightest of space but somehow his slick pass was brilliantly picked up by O'Driscoll, who skipped within a hair's breadth of the touchline before crossing for Ireland's try.
After that it was supreme Irish defence against an England team who were beginning to run out of ideas.