Eddie Jones is facing questions over his future as England's tour to South Africa began to unravel in the Afrikaners' heartland of Bloemfontein.
The series was surrendered with a game to spare after Saturday's 23-12 defeat at Free State Stadium registered a fifth successive Test loss that plunges them to sixth in the global rankings.
It is understood that England’s Rugby Football Union has no plans to reconsider Jones' contract in response to the results, but the Australian is under growing pressure to lead England out of an alarming slump that began with a fifth-place finish at the NatWest 6 Nations.
To make matters worse, Jones will be without Billy Vunipola for the third and final Test against the Springboks after the bulldozing number eight re-fractured the arm that forced him out of action for four months earlier in the year.
Evidence that the tension is affecting both players and coach abounded at Free State Stadium, where Jones turned on a broadcaster by taking exception to the line of questioning.
When asked if he can reverse the slide, Jones told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I'm 100 per cent confident. 100 per cent as you are aggressive.
"Your nature is very aggressive, mate. That's fine. I'm happy to answer that aggressive questioning."
While Jones was locking horns with his interviewer in the aftermath of the bad-tempered Test, several players also allowed their frustration to boil over.
An eyewitness heard Joe Marler swear at a Springbok fan before Mike Brown continued the verbal hostilities with supporters, while Ben Youngs walked away from an interview with a television broadcaster after giving one curt answer.
The Leicester scrum-half's conduct was condemned by World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward and he later apologised on social media.
Billy Vunipola's older brother Mako is also on his way home to attend the birth of his first child while Ellis Genge's tour is over as well because of a knee problem, resulting in a call-up for Alec Hepburn.
The memory of Ellis Park a week earlier came flooding back as England raced into an early 12-0 lead through superb tries by Mike Brown and Jonny May, but they were then unable to score again as South Africa took control.
"It's a tough period at the minute. No-one likes to lose five games in a row," Jones said.
"We have been through an exceptional period and now we're going through this tough period.
"The players and coaches are putting in plenty of effort but for some reason are just not handling key moments of the game well.
"An England side is always under pressure. Whether you're winning or losing, you're always under pressure.
"It's just about sticking together, understanding what you can improve and the emotions of the situation. If we do that we will get out of it."
England have a chance to salvage some pride in Saturday’s third Test against the Springboks in Cape Town.