Bradford Bulls' relegation from First Utility Super League was all but confirmed when they suffered a sixth straight defeat in a scrappy, high-scoring derby at Huddersfield Giants.
A 52-26 loss at the John Smith's Stadium leaves the Bulls 13 points from safety with just six matches left and effectively ends their 40-year stay in the top flight of rugby league.
Eternal optimists might cling to the hope that the four-times Super League champions will yet win back the six points they were docked for going into administration via High-Court action but the look of resignation on the faces of the players told its own tale.
Bradford are the second founder members of Super League to be relegated after London Broncos' drop into the Kingstone Press Championship was confirmed a week ago, completing a stunning fall from grace eight years after they were crowned world club champions for the third time.
Today's result merely confirmed the inevitable and the Bulls received no sympathy from former player Paul Anderson, whose Huddersfield team got their top-six campaign back on track after back-to-back defeats, with winger Jermaine McGillvary scoring three of their 10 tries.
At least the Bulls went down fighting - three times taking the lead in an error-strewn first half - before the Giants ran away with the game after the break.
There was a hint of a stay of execution when former Huddersfield winger Luke George grabbed two first-half tries to help Bradford establish a 16-10 lead after 24 minutes.
Scrum-half Luke Gale got George over for his first and also created one for hooker Adam O'Brien before the winger collected Lee Gaskell's high kick to claim his second.
Neither side was able to get to their kick on the last tackle and Huddersfield demonstrated the more clinical finishing to lead 26-16 at the break.
Teenage full-back Jake Connor marked his home debut by scoring the Giants' first try, second rower Ukuma Ta'ai pounced on a blunder by Bradford full-back Brett Kearney to touch down and Leroy Cudjoe's long-range break created a score for scrum-half Luke Robinson.
The home side looked to have gained a grip on the game when skipper Danny Brough and second rower Brett Ferres combined to get substitute Chris Bailey over and Cudjoe palmed the ball back from Brough's kick to send McGillvary over for his first try.
But another handling error, this time from substitute Larne Patrick - within a minute of the re-start - gifted Bradford a glorious attacking position and they made the most of it, with Gaskell sending Kearney over for their fourth try.
However, Jamie Foster's conversion rebounded off an upright, leaving him with a tally of two successes from four attempts and his side trailing by six points.
Ferres, who began his professional career with the Bulls, forced his way over from close range for Huddersfield's sixth try and there was no way back for the visitors when another ex-Bradford man, centre Joe Wardle, stole the ball in a one-on-one tackle from George to sprint 70 metres for an opportunist score.
As the Bulls wilted in the warm sunshine, McGillvary touched down twice in eight minutes to complete his hat-trick and Ta'ai scored a second, with Cudjoe taking his goal tally to six from 10 attempts, although Kearney grabbed a consolation try for the visitors.