A disappointed Dan McKellar has warned "things will be dire" unless the ACT Brumbies can win back the support of the Canberra public amidst Australian rugby's struggles.
The Brumbies mentor says that is the stark reality facing Super Rugby's most successful Australian club as their average attendances threaten to hit their lowest point in 23 years.
It quickly became clear the crowd wouldn't be raising the roof of the Gregan-Larkham Standwhen a hopeful pre-game assessment of the attendance figures played out like this: "Well, I guess there's still two minutes until kick-off."
Just 6311 filed into Canberra Stadium to see a Tevita Kuridrani hat-trick steer the Brumbies to a 22-10 win against the Pretoria Bulls on Friday night.
If the alarms aren't ringing at Rugby Australia headquarters by now, it must be time to replace the batteries.
Where else can Super Rugby fans see the K-Train with a full head of steam? What about Jahrome Brown stealing balls like they're going out of fashion? Or a giraffe masquerading as a rugby player named Rory Arnold galloping in open space?
Whether you are looking for explosive and flashy rugby or a gritty battle, the Brumbies are ticking both boxes. But still they average just 8332 fans per game with just one home game left this season.
"It's disappointing to be honest. We want to play in front of bigger crowds, we feel like we're putting on a performance the community can resonate with, connect with and get behind," Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said.
"Just encourage people to get back out here and get behind the Brumbies. It's a massive thing for us, because if we don't, things will be dire. That's the reality.
"We've got to get support for this team, and at the moment we're probably a little bit off that. We've got the Reds in our last fixture at home here, I don't want to talk about finals.
"Hopefully we get a good crowd here for the Queensland game, there'll be a lot of quality footballers running around in both teams. Let's get closer to 13-14,000 people to start with and we'll push on from there."
The Bulls clash is traditionally one of the toughest sells for Brumbies officials - wind the clock back 20 years and the two clubs met in front of just 4000.
That aside, just once have the Brumbies managed to draw at least 9000 through the gates this season. That is a concerning sign for the state of Australian rugby - because the ACT outfit is certainly not alone in the fight to win back the fans.
It seems even the prospect of a home final for a side riding a wave of momentum is not enough to draw disillusioned rugby fans back through the gates in the territory.
Fans have been left feeling alienated by Australian rugby supremos following a raft of off-field issues in recent years that have seen clubs and players cast aside.
First came the demise of the Western Force. Then came Israel Folau's homophobic social media posts. Neither was handled as swiftly as they should have been, and the game is seemingly suffering as a result.
The Brumbies have resurrected their season with five consecutive wins on home soil without one of the world's best players in David Pocock filling a spot in the match day squad.
With one home game remaining before the playoffs roll around, club chiefs must be wondering what more they can do.
THE RUN HOME
Maybe a finals berth is what the Canberra public needs to get back on board - and it may come with the Brumbies one game clear in the Australian conference with destiny in their own hands.
While Dan McKellar's side was preparing to tame the Bulls, the Queensland Reds' finals hopes were dealt a cruel blow in an agonising six-point defeat at the hands of the Waikato Chiefs in Hamilton.
A win would have put the Reds right back in the hunt for a finals spot, but the task of forcing their way into the playoffs now seems almost insurmountable.
The Brumbies will meet the Japan Sunwolves abroad and the NSW Waratahs up the highway before the Reds come to Canberra to round out the regular season. Three games, three intra-conference chances to hold top spot.