Saturday’s loss against Aviva Premiership leaders Saracens was perhaps expected – let’s face it, Kingsholm is no longer the fortress it has been in past seasons.
However, this performance at Castle Grim uncovered the masking of reassurance given by the two victories over Worcester and London Irish.
The pack, particularly at scrum time, was again exposed. This was highlighted when Gloucester opted for a scrum when a penalty was awarded in their favour.
Despite Saracens having two men in the sin-bin, the Cherry and Whites were pushed off the ball against six Sarries forwards and Brad Barritt – something the majority of the 13,800 in the crowd deemed unacceptable.
The signings of Richard Hibbard and John Afoa for next season’s campaign will no doubt help to shore up this problem, but it is not just the front row which is failing.
While the lineout is more organised with James Hudson orchestrating matters, Gloucester seem to lack the physicality that bullied defences last season.
This, of course, has not been helped by the injury to Sione Kalamafoni and the now departed Akapusi Qera falling out of favour, though the underlying issue lies within the mentality of the squad.
Forwards are receiving the ball when standing still and consequently failing to make yards when hitting contact. Also, the Saracens pack was noticeably quicker to get to the breakdown on Saturday, leaving Matt Kvesic a lonely figure in attempting to gain turnover ball.
Players have poor games, yes, but when a former Kingsholm favourite and World Cup winner such as Phil Vickery begins questioning the attitude and desire of the squad (as he did on BT Sport’s coverage), then there is cause for concern.
It is not just the battle up-front which Gloucester is losing. The decision-making of the half-backs is at times woeful.
Freddie Burns clearly has his mind elsewhere and, although Billy Twelvetrees has not let the side down when filling in at fly-half, the England man had displayed all the signs of a centre who was being asked to play out of position.
There is no doubt Jimmy Cowan knows every trick in the scrum-half book, but he is not providing the leadership and general quality of play that one would expect from a former All-Black. The youthful Dan Robson added impetus and a spark when he was brought on against Saracens, and does not get sin-binned with the frequency of Cowan, but is still learning his craft.
This indecision and taking of the wrong option does not enable Gloucester to release their dangerous players out wide.
Runners like Henry Trinder and Jonny May have the ability to score tries from all areas of the pitch, but at the moment they are not receiving good enough or quick enough ball to unleash their skills.
Gloucester are not relegation contenders – the two wins over the festive period ensured that – but these kind of performances from a side tipped to make the playoffs at the beginning of the season is simply not good enough.
Credit must go to the men at the top for reacting to the problems at the scrum and signing three quality forwards in a short space of time.
However, after Saturday’s demolition there are surely more negotiations to be had with quality players, or coaches, to replace the many who are not currently performing at an acceptable level.