WFL - Ararat joint-coach Andrew Louder said the Rats put in their worst performance of the season in the team's 63-point thumping at the mercy of Wimmera Football League reigning premier Dimboola on Saturday.
Ararat's third consecutive loss has seen the side plummet from top of the ladder to now sit fourth after seven rounds.
Louder said the result was made all the more disappointing given the dominant start the Rats got away to.
The visitors burst out of the blocks against the Roos, with Matt North and Beau Cosson leading the way as Ararat booted four of the first five goals of the match to open up a handy lead.
"Everything was working well for the first 15 minutes, everything we'd talked about before the match they were doing they were hard at the ball, they were running and spreading, kicking out in front of their forwards who were marking," Louder said.
"But you can't go five goals up over a good, quality team and then stop and that's what we did.
"We let them back into it in the next 10 to 12 minutes and we go in a point down at quarter time.
"All the hard work had come undone, we were still in the game, but mentally I think a few players were out of it."
Ararat's cause wasn't helped a minute into the second term, with defender Mick Fratin injuring his hamstring and was unable to take any further part in the match.
Louder said the loss of Fratin unsettled his side and Dimboola took full advantage, scoring the first four majors of the quarter to push the margin out to 24 points.
Aaron Searle and Dan Mendes battled hard to win the ball from the centre and when Cosson scored two goals in quick succession the Rats looked to be regaining some of their composure.
Peter Thompson was also beginning to stamp his authority on the match.
"Pete and Dan added some hardness and toughness at the ball and never shirked an issue," Louder said.
"If you look at nearly all of our best players they are hard at it, but what was letting them down was those who weren't prepared to help with that style of play."
The Roos responded to Ararat's challenge and kicked the next three goals, with Ash Clugston and Lachie Exell running riot in an isolated forward-50.
A desperate run down in the goal square by Alan Batchelor allowed the Rats to peg back a major on the halftime siren and saw them go into the main break trailing by 28 points.
Louder said he didn't think the match was out of reach by halftime time.
"I thought if we could get back to what we were doing, four or five goals was only 10 minutes of footy as we had proved, but we had to start playing positively again and get that run and spread happening," he said.
"We tried to do that in the first 15 to 20 minutes of the third quarter and I think we controlled the game, but we just didn't hurt them on the scoreboard to get ourselves back in it.
"Late in that quarter they then go forward and kick three goals. So instead of us being two goals down, because we were inaccurate and they weren't, we found ourselves eight goals down at three quarter time."
Ararat recorded six scoring shots to the home side's seven in the fourth quarter, but once again inaccurate kicking saw the margin blow out further.
Dimboola's four majors for the term to the Rats' one pushed its lead beyond 10 goals by the end of the match 21.9 (135) to 10.12 (72).
"They had a couple of quality forwards that were playing good football on Saturday, in Clugston (seven goals) and Excell (six) and their disposal into those two footballers was excellent ours wasn't," Louder said.
"The delivery to Cosson and North dropped away in the second half and that was probably through Dimboola's midfield pressure and the way we didn't kick to advantage."
Louder said wingman Brendon Lovell was a solid contributor over four quarters and had the wood over his opponent Shaun McDonald.
"Brendon was good, it was probably his best game, but I think he can still get better from here," he said.
"He is a very good footballer, he just needs to start taking some games by control and try and really smash a match open, because he can do it.
"Overall, we didn't have the best of luck, the ball didn't bounce our way a lot of the time, but sometimes you've just got to go and make your own luck.
"It wasn't all of them, but there were some that stopped attacking the footy, which makes it harder for those out there that are."
Along with Fratin, small forward Tyler Cronin finished the match on the bench with a hamstring injury. He will be assessed at training this week as the Rats prepare to take on a bottom of the ladder Nhill.
Ararat has now faced each team in the Wimmera and will be desperate to get back on the winners' list against the Tigers the team the Rats defeated by 58 points in round one.
"Before round one would I have been happy in this position? Yeah I'd probably say I would be, but after playing seven games and seeing what we are capable of, David and I aren't that happy because we have lost a couple that we shouldn't have lost," Louder said.
"Last week you asked me was Dimboola the season defining match, well I think this week against Nhill is. We simply must comeback and beat them now after a disappointing few weeks."