It is hard to feel disappointed when your team - a plucky, underdog mid-table side playing an (apparently) distinctive Northern brand of rugby are beaten by the unequivocal best team in Europe (and probably the world but who isn't intrigued by a potential Saracens - Hurricanes clash).
Yet one can't help but feel this was an opportunity missed for Sale on Sunday - in front of a season-high crowd of 8828, the Sharks could not capitalise on a visiting side bereft of five England representatives (plus a litany of other internationals scattered worldwide) ultimately falling 28-13.
Josh Beaumont scored an early pushover try and AJ MacGinty slotted three out of his four kicks but it was the Fez Heads who ran out clear winners, capitalising magnificently on two unforced errors from Sale in the opposition 22 to run the length of the field and put the game to bed; Matt Gallagher and Ben Spencer the beneficiaries of a level of intricate team play the Sharks failed to match at any point on Sunday afternoon.
It would be unfair to criticise Sale - who with the loss now drop to seventh in the table - too harshly for falling to Saracens, a club that even without the Vunipolas, Itoje, Farrell et al. boast one of the most robust squads in the entire Premiership and reigning champions of both England and Europe.
But one thinks back to the thrilling 36-36 result in the corresponding fixture last season (again coming at a time when Saracens had been weakened by international callups) and has to wonder where the inspired, ebullient attacking rugby of last season which would have made Sunday's fixture at least competitive has disappeared to.
The loss of Danny Cipriani is, of course, a big factor (although AJ MacGinty did show some flashes of hard-nosed quality on his return from injury), as was Saracens' ostensibly impenetrable blitz defence, but for the eighth time this season Sale appeared to lack any semblance of attacking structure and were duly punished by a far more clinical side.
Maybe George Ford will fix that next season, maybe not.
Regardless, Sale need to see more out of their backline players not named Paolo Odogwu, especially since their other main weapon - the rolling maul - has been decisively found out through twelve games this season. Perhaps the Northern approach to top-level contests needs some overdue refinement; Sale currently lack purpose, flair and shape (and sometimes all three combined) when in possession, and unfortunately this has become an endemic problem.
For now, it is (once again) back to the drawing board for Sale ahead of a trip to the Ricoh next Sunday. Sunday's game shouldn't raise too many alarm bells, and neither should a potential defeat away to Wasps, but it is concerning that Sale, a third of the way into the season, still look like an assembled group of individuals rather than a definitive team.
It was Saracens' ability to play as precisely that which allowed them to become only the second team to win a Premiership game at Sale in the last twelve months.
Honourable Mention: Ben Curry (Premiership debut).
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