They were undermanned, undersized and written off against the ladder leaders on their home court.
But Canberra Capitals skipper Jess Bibby refuses to write off her team's finals chances despite an 84-75 loss in Adelaide yesterday.
The depleted Capitals showed plenty of character, but plucky defeats don't help them stay alive in the playoff race.
Realistically the seven-time champions can only lose one, possibly two, of their last ten games to squeeze into the top five.
That seems a tough ask for a side with a 4-8 win-loss record, but Bibby insists it hasn't given up hope.
''Our focus is still to get into the playoffs, that's still alive for us,'' Bibby said. ''We can't drop too many more, but they [Adelaide] are on top for a reason and we can take a lot of good things out of that.''
Canberra led 50-43 at the main break thanks largely to Bibby, who scored 17 of her 21 points in the first half, including five three-pointers from as many attempts.
But Adelaide's tall targets Suzy Batkovic (25 points) and Abby Bishop (18) fired down the stretch to ensure the Lightning improved to 9-2.
Well held by smaller opponents Brigitte Ardossi (12 points) and Carly Wilson (12 points, nine rebounds) early, the Opals pair were the difference late. They led Adelaide to an 11-2 run to end the game after scores were 73-all with three minutes left.
''We forced Suzy and Bish into some tough looks, but they're world-class players and were able to get the job done eventually,'' Bibby said.
''But I thought Brigitte had the better of Bishy today, even though she got her numbers in the end, and [Marianna] Tolo did well on Suzy because she's a tough cover.''
After beating West Coast in Perth on Friday night, injuries meant Canberra used just a seven-player rotation yesterday.
Forward Hannah Bowley missed with a hamstring problem, and key guard Michelle Cosier hasn't played at all this season due to osteitis pubis.
The depth on which Canberra normally relies as cover simply isn't there this season and they must beat Sydney at home next week to stay in the running for playoffs.
''With those girls out it does hurt us on the second leg of a road trip,'' Bibby said. ''It [the loss] certainly stings, but it also gives us confidence we can play against the best.''
Capitals coach Carrie Graf said her side simply ran out of puff at the end of the league's most taxing road trip.
''We played good hoop and our process was good, but probably fatigue impacted our shots down the stretch and that hurt us,'' she said.
''We had some great looks, but they were good late and have some veterans who can make those key plays. If we can play with the same intensity and focus we did today, the wins will come.''
With six straight home matches to come either side of Christmas, the Capitals have every chance to build some momentum.
''We've only won once at home this year [against struggler West Coast], so we have to start to build that record and we have that chance now,'' Bibby said.
This reporter is on Twitter: @tuxy81