INTENSITY, hustle, defence, three things which have characterised the Cheshire Jets season and all three were painfully absent in the final regular season game against Worcester Wolves.
Never mind that the Jets were guaranteed fourth place, head coach Paul Smith had impressed upon his charges before this match the importance of playing themselves into form and going into their play-off quarter-final against Plymouth Raiders on a high.
Instead they looked leaden and lethargic, keen to race forward but less so to close up at the back. Despite being warned by Smith to work back to cut out the Wolves' fast breaks and three-point shots, the Jets allowed their visitors to drain 20 of their 44 shots from downtown and succumbed to countless attacks on the break.
Without injured captain Colin O'Reilly on the floor to organise them defensively, the Jets allowed their usual standards to slip and while it may not have harmed them in the BBL Championship, whether it affects their play-off ambitions remains to be seen.
Smith did opt to rotate his line-up more than usual, Phil Brandreth starting the game and getting a decent number of minutes under his belt. And it wasn't all doom and gloom for the Jets as Matt Schneck his a double-double of 34 points and 14 rebounds, closely followed by Quemont Greer, also with a double-double 18pts and 10 rebounds.
But it was a bad night at the Northgate Arena and afterwards Smith said perhaps the Jets' secure position had probably been an overbearing factor in the performance.
"I think being locked into fourth has affected the guys this weekend," he said. "We've tried not to let that happen really by putting the emphasis on preparing for the play-offs but you can see by the way they played today that it wasn't a normal Jets team out there.
"I don't think any guy did their part defensively. You defend as a unit in basketball and we didn't do that today. We emphasised not to give them any fast break buckets and not to give them threes and of course all game we gave them fast break buckets and threes.
"We used to be a very good defensive team but that's completely gone so we've got three or four days to get that right or our season ends next weekend.
"I think we can get that back, we did it before so we just have to have some pretty intense and forthright tape sessions this week and some very hard work in practice."
And while he admitted his skipper's absence was a blow, Smith refused to allow it to be used as an excuse for his side's performance.
"Colin is a definite loss out there but we should still have enough to play defence," he said. "We've got enough bodies to do that. We're looking forward to having him back and hopefully he will be back next weekend but the guys out there had an opportunity to prove themselves this weekend and we've let ourselves down a bit."