WHEN does a dip in form become a team’s true level? When does a slow start to a season simply become a poor season? Such questions have particular pertinence for Glasgow Warriors following their defeat by Munster on Monday night - their fifth loss in six PRO14 games, a record which is their poorest beginning to a campaign in 15 years.

A couple of early losses might merely have provoked us into a spot of positive thinking and the insistence that “This is not the Glasgow team we have come to know and love”. But after so many defeats, we should perhaps accept that, love it or not, this is the only Glasgow team we’ve got.

Of course there will be good performances in the months ahead, and indeed there were a lot of things to like about their play on Monday night. With better discipline and a slightly smaller error count, the 13-27 loss to Munster might well have produced a losing bonus point.

But losing bonuses should not be the height of the Warriors’ ambition, especially at home. And a few good performances over the course of the season should not be enough to console us; not when the team in question reached the tournament final as recently as 2019.

Head coach Danny Wilson has said the aim for the season should be to make the play-offs, and in that respect all is far from lost. If they win their game in hand against Dragons, Glasgow will be just three or four points behind Ospreys, third in Conference A, albeit the gap between themselves and leaders Leinster and Ulster would remain more than 20 points.

But the Dragons match and the one against Cardiff which precedes it are the only PRO14 games left before the Champions Cup. Then come the 1872 double-header and a home match against Benetton before Europe takes over again. Then, just as the PRO14 resumes, it is time for the Six Nations to start; time, that is, for the Warriors’ best players to depart on Scotland duty.

In short, Wilson’s first-choice 15 will not be available to him for long enough to turn the team’s fortunes around. For better or worse, he must rely on the players he has used in recent weeks to steer him through his first season at the helm.

On paper at least, those players should be good enough to fare far better than their present form. Yes, injuries and international absences have reduced Wilson’s options in certain areas, but the team that began against Munster still had Tommy Seymour, Nick Grigg and Pete Horne in the back division, plus Rob Harley and Ryan Wilson in the pack. And although the Munster line-up included the odd dash of star quality such as Damian de Allende, a World Cup winner with South Africa, it was composed largely of well-drilled, hard-working types.

Yet those hard-working types got the better of Glasgow, above all up front. The home team’s cause was not helped by the early injuries to Seymour and Grigg, nor by the gratuitous offence which saw Ryan Wilson sinbinned just at the point when his team were a man up and getting back into the game.

We could rightly expect senior players such as the home captain to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Instead, it was far younger members of the Munster team who did that, notably their Nos 8 and 9, man of the match Gavin Coombes and Craig Casey.

Jamie Dobie, currently injured, could give Casey a run for his money, but in general we have far fewer players of real promise coming through the national academy system than Ireland do. That is something which is outwith the head coach’s control and will take several years, at least, to rectify.

Until that happens, Danny Wilson will have to play the hand he has been given. When he took up the job and emphasised the need for the team to be tighter in defence and more pragmatic on the counter, he did so from the point of view of a Warriors side that was committed to fast, attacking, ambitious rugby. That adventurous style may be reborn in time. Right now, though, more basic virtues have to be the priority.