Former Wallaby and Queensland Red Greg Martin says his old province risks becoming Super Rugby "laughing stocks" and thinks ACT Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham was right to call them "not up to Super Rugby standard".
The outspoken Fox Sports commentator also says the Brumbies' Super Rugby title "window of opportunity" is open and they've taken their game to another level with their "dominant" defence.
Larkham made the comment following the Brumbies' 47-3 thumping of the Reds in the season opener at Canberra Stadium a month ago and Martin predicted there could be a repeat of the round-one flogging when the two teams meet at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
While the Brumbies coach thinks the Reds have turned it around since then, Martin was unsure they had.
He said Larkham's comment rang true for three of Queensland's four games this season, with the Reds' only chance of winning the rematch if the Brumbies "let themselves down".
"There could be a repeat ... you'd reckon there'd be 20-30 points in it," Martin told Fairfax Media on Monday.
"Three out of [the Reds'] games [Larkham's comment] has been true. The only game they won was the will of Will Genia - he just decided they weren't going to get beat and took the whole game into his own hands.
"They're almost becoming the laughing stock if they keep on putting any more of those performances on and it looks like they will."
While the Reds have just one win this season, the Brumbies have started brilliantly to sit on top of the Australian conference and in second spot on the Super Rugby ladder with three wins and one loss.
Martin said they had "so much going for them" and backed them to end their title drought, which dates back to 2004.
He said the arrival of collision coach Peter Ryan had been a major part of that, as the Brumbies looked to dominate their opponents in the tackle - trying to "turtle" players by putting them on their back.
Martin said they no longer relied on their work at the breakdown to try and turn the ball over, pointing to their improved discipline that's taken them from one of the most penalised teams in the competition to one of the least.
He also felt they had the ability to "score at will" - something the Reds were struggling to do at all.
"They've taken a step up from last year, which was a step up from the year before - they've had a three-year progression, so this is the year," Martin said.
"If they're going to chase the title ... this is their window of opportunity to win the thing.
"Now Christian Lealiifano's kicking is back over 80 per cent bloody oath [they can win the title]."
Martin said the Karmichael Hunt saga had clearly taken its toll on the Reds, but felt not having James Horwill or a rejuvenated Will Genia as captain had been just as damaging.
Prop James Slipper was named captain for this season, but Martin thought it might have been better for him to have been an understudy this year instead.
He said Reds coach Richard Graham had based the whole season around Quade Cooper (broken collarbone) at flyhalf and the former Wallabies playmaker's injury had unsettled the ship.
"I reckon they've made a bad move not having either Will Genia or James Horwill as captain," Martin said.
"Who gives a stuff if they're going overseas, keep James Slipper and Karmichael Hunt in the leadership group but not with a VC or a C next to their name, keep it with these guys having their last season and let them go out with a bit of pride."
SUPER RUGBY ROUND FIVE
Saturday: ACT Brumbies v Queensland Reds at Suncorp Stadium, 7.40pm.
TV time: Live on Fox Sports 2.