FOR the second match in succession, Edinburgh's efforts proved pointless, and by the end of this one yesterday last season's Heineken Cup semi-finalists looked completely clueless as they were ultimately taken apart by two-time champions Munster in Ireland.
Arithmetically, Michael Bradley's side may still have a chance of reaching the knockout stages of the main tournament, but history shows they are out, with no team ever having recovered from losing their first two pool matches to go through.
So far, Edinburgh have conceded 78 points and scored none and, as they seek to regroup, injury has been added to insult. Gregor Hunter, the third-choice stand-off who came in because Greig Laidlaw, the club captain, and Harry Leonard were ruled out of this game, staggered from the fray during the mauling his side suffered in the second half.
Ben Atiga had already departed with a knee problem and fellow imports Dimitri Basalia (hamstring) and Netani Talei (knee) also failed to finish the match, with Bradley reporting that he fears all four "will be out for the foreseeable future".
Perhaps most painful of all, though, was the knowledge that Edinburgh could have capitalised on Munster's apparent confusion about the way they want to play as they seek to add width to their traditional forward-oriented game.
The amount of possession the home side won and the time they spent in opposition territory in the opening half was wholly familiar, but what they did when there was not.
Edinburgh seemed to have been trying to play mind games by keeping quiet for as long as possible over Tim Visser's absence but the word that the free-scoring internationalist winger would be missing had been out in Ireland long before it was official.
That may have backfired on Munster, however, since it almost looked as if they had overthought their approach as a consequence, with their biggest forwards – Paul O'Connell, Donncha O'Callaghan and Paul O'Mahony – spending a huge amount of time hanging out on the wings, presumably hoping to benefit from aerial mismatches against Edinburgh's wingers.
Doug Howlett and Simon Zebo, two of the most elusive runners in the game, were meanwhile infield much of the time, hungry for involvement but perhaps too much so. The consequent failure to make best use of their possession to build the sort of solid platform expected from them at Thomond Park meant their forwards' hard work went largely unrewarded as they played into the hands of a much-improved Edinburgh defence.
The visitors offered little more than that, though, failing to give themselves much chance to play the kind of high-tempo game that took them so far last season.
Ross Ford's lineout troubles were such that it almost looked as if he had the yips late in the half. Edinburgh turned the ball over and conceded penalties time after time at the breakdown, and their scrummage was also under considerable pressure.
For all they were showing much more fight than against Saracens, there were moments of embarrassment, too, not least for Talei. Three times a man-of-the-match winner as Edinburgh won their pool last season, he was picked up like a rag doll and carried back over his line by Connor Murray and Sean Dougal as he tried to run the ball out from a five-metre scrummage.
As the first half ended, then, it was remarkable that all that separated the teams was a brace of penalties for Ian Keatley, the stand-off who was replacing the injured Ronan O'Gara, but it felt very much as if it was only a matter of time before Munster got it right and made their dominance count.
So it proved as they took complete control early in the second period. O'Connell, no longer the captain but still a massive influence, was twice involved in the move which saw them punch repeated holes in the Edinburgh defence before, 10 metres out, Murray spotted space behind a ruck. The powerful scrum-half battered his way over for a try that was confirmed after consultation with the TV-replay official.
When Keatley quickly followed his conversion with a third penalty it was no longer about which team would win but by how many. Such was Munster's confidence that when awarded a penalty deep in Edinburgh territory with 10 minutes to go they opted to go for touch. Old-style Munster driving produced their second try, O'Mahony claiming the touchdown.
It should have been too late for them go chasing after the tries that would get them a bonus point, but moments later replacement Paddy Butler broke through the Edinburgh defence, then sent Keatley clear.
The young stand-off looked to have blown the scoring opportunity when he ignored the support of Denis Hurley to go it alone, scrambling out of a first tackle before being stopped short of the line, but support arrived in numbers and Dougal plunged over for the score that added an extra edge to the closing stages.
Edinburgh then conceded their umpteenth breakdown penalty just outside the 22 and from the resultant lineout another characteristic drive split the visiting pack in two as Damian Varley ploughed through for the try that puts Munster right back in contention for a quarter-final place.