Cape Town - Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has put his side's humiliating defeat against the Bulls on Saturday down to an 'off day'.
The Capetonians were full of optimism and confidence heading into their first fixture of Super Rugby 2019, but what followed was a 40-3 hammering that is arguably one of Fleck's worst results since he took over as Stormers coach back in 2016.
The Stormers were outplayed in every department as the Bulls, starting a new era under coach Pote Human, were superb as they hit the ground running in 2019.
Fleck, who came under significant pressure towards the end of 2018 following a disappointing campaign for the Stormers, is currently serving the final year of his contract and he was again the victim of some strong criticism on social media following Saturday's trip to Loftus Versfeld.
If he wanted to find an excuse, he would not be short of options with the off-field issues plaguing the union.
There remains serious uncertainty over the fall-out between Paul Treu and the franchise after the former assistant coach claimed that he had been discriminated against against by Fleck and the rest of the coaching team.
Since then, Treu has been linked with the director of rugby position at the Stormers following the contract of expiration of Gert Smal at the end of the season.
That reportedly resulted in a player revolt in support of Smal, and it all points towards an administrative circus.
The financial issues plaguing the Stormers also remain, with new president Zelt Marais ruffling numerous feathers with his proposed pay cuts.
Then, on Saturday, kick-off at Loftus was delayed by around 20 minutes due to traffic congestion outside of the stadium to provide another disruption.
"We're not going to use that as an excuse. We just didn't deliver today like we had hoped," Fleck said of the delayed kick-off.
"It's a tough start for us. Well done to the Bulls ... it was a clinical performance from them and not so from our side.
"It was an off day but it's not going to keep us down. It's a setback and we're going to have to pick ourselves back up."
When pressed on whether the the off-field matters were serving as a distraction, Fleck again would not be drawn into making excuses.
"I'm going to say 'no' and I'm going to say that we're a tight group and that we're not going to worry about what's happening off the field," he said.
"We could have a built-in excuse system for anything that is going wrong but we're certainly not going to do that ... it's an off day.
"Whatever happens off the field stays off the field."
The Stormers are next in action when they host the Lions at Newlands on Saturday.
Kick-off is at 17:15.