Eight yellow cards in the last four games.
21 points scored total in the same timespan.
One try scored in December.
Seven consecutive losses.
Whichever way you want to spin the numbers, it makes for bleak, nay, embarassing reading for Sale fans.
Friday night at Franklin's Gardens represented the greatest opportunity yet for the Sharks to snap their recent slump. Yet up against a Northampton Saints side shot of confidence after a two-legged walloping at the hands of Leinster and facing even more questions than the visitors in regards to their own respective poor run of form in recent months, Sale again reaffirmed their distressing lack of competitiveness this season, slumping to a 24-5 defeat.
As delightful as it was seeing Denny Solomona leap salmon-like through the air to score a wonderful try in the right corner on 65 minutes, Sale's one genuine flash of brilliance on Friday was ultimately meaningless given that the Sharks were consistently overwhelmed by Northampton's rolling maul, failed to convincingly challenge the Saints lineout or indeed score any additional points on their eight other trips to the Saints' 22.
Ben Foden dancing over the try-line after three minutes set the tone for another miserable evening in an increasingly dismal season, Tom Wood doubling the Northampton lead after 28 minutes. Sale subsequently controlled possession and territory for the majority of the time remaining but butchered opportunity after opportunity (eight of them to be precise) as they approached the Northampton try area, Solomona's sensational touchdown aside. MacGinty missed the extras for that score and Sale never truly threatened again - as the clock went dead it was ex-Shark Luther Burrell who crashed over for the game's final try after James Mitchell, shortly after taking a quick-tap penalty, threw the ball to Saints' fly-half Stephen Myler in his own 22 who in turn fed his teammate for the type of simple score that has eluded Sale all season.
Any recurring reader of this site will have read these words ad nauseum over the past six weeks but Friday's defeat was the clearest indicator yet of the fundamental issues that continue to plague Sale's squad - a lack of ball-carriers in the pack, glacial delivery from scrum-half, an absence of creativity and structure in the backline.
Once again Sale's rolling maul was emphatically nullified all-game long and with that tactic rendered impotent, the Sharks resorted to ineffective one-out runners who endevoured industrially but simply lack the physicality or pace to make any serious indents into the Saints' defensive line.
For all of his enthusiasm and excitingly reckless abandon, it is clear that TJ Ioane is not suited to play either as a number eight or as Sale's first option as a ball-carrier. Ioane's style of carrying, low to the ground, leading with the shoulders and with the ball in hand, is simply not conducive to making the impact carries that punch holes in opposition defences that either a no.8 or a first option are required to do. Ahilst Ioane has been one of Sale's most laborious and consistent players this season, his impact, as a platform building carrier and breakdown jackal, is being negated by utilisation in a role which doesn't fit his skillset.
And Sale's lack of pack-provided impetus was once again compounded by the stagnancy of ball provided by Mike Philips. The issues with Philips' place in the Sale first-team are obvious to all - the slow decision-making at the base of the ruck, the lack of physical speed on his passes, his tendency to turn his back to the ruck which encourages the opposition to pressure his protection, further delaying the delivery of the ball, his lack of foot speed to actually get to the ruck and his over-tendency to box-kick despite the presence of a dropped-back fly-half. Philips clearly still has the capapcity to play at Premiership level but only behind a Saracens or an Exeter - he is a terrible fit in a team whose forwards cannot bully the opposition backwards and who require quick ball to negate said disadvantage.
With Peter Stringer likely out for the season with an ACL injury, Philips' acquisation looking more and more like an expensive flop each week, and the relative inexperience of James Mitchell, it is imperative Sale make a mid-season acquisation for a scrum-half who can instantly step in as the incumbent in that position.
There are further issues that were once again exposed on Friday but with the main two which need the most urgent addressing already spoken of and the holiday season in full swing it would be disheartening to dwell on them for too long. So in short; there now exists genuine concern that AJ MacGinty does not provide the ability as a distributor to function as Sale's first-choice fly-half. His in-play kicking shows promise as does his ability as a ball-carrier but despite lengthy spells of possession on Friday, MacGinty could not orchastrate the backline into an incisive or dangerous pattern. The lack of creative vision or awareness eminent in Sale's attack this season can not rest solely on MacGinty's shoulders but as first-choice fly-half and de facto playmaker, his must bear the brunt of it.
On the plus side, Harrison-Webber-Aulika as a trio once again all had strong performances in both the loose and the scrum and have continued to provide a somewhat stable and rested influence on the Sale pack despite the current losing streak. Furthermore, Cameron Neild and Magnus Lund both impressed in the back-row and if all else fails, AJ MacGinty showed he has a potential future at scrum-half.
But there is no denying that Sale are in the midst of arguably their worst run of form since the horror start of 2012-13 and confidence is low. A win against Bristol on New Year's Day would immediately undo most of the negativity that has permeated the club in recent weeks and ensure that a touted relegation battle from the club's more pessimistic fans does not come to fruition. However whilst losses to Saracens, Wasps and even Exeter were forgivable, Friday's loss, against a team that was flaunted in pre-season as one of Sale's domestic rivals, is the latest indication that this is quite simply a team that will not contend for the top-six this season and is instead destined for, and in need of, a proper rebuild.