Munster have five days to rescue their season.
If a failure to qualify for the knockout stages of European competition is followed by two season-ending PRO14 defeats in 13 days at the hands of Leinster, the campaign will have been an unmitigated disaster.
The loss of their biggest signing in years after just a few minutes will merely have put the tin hat on it.
Friday's meeting with Leinster is enormously important for Munster. The good news for Johann van Graan's team is that it won't be as important for opponents who'll surely have one eye on European competition.
The Champions Cup is where Leinster get to really measure their worth. Munster, on the other hand, have only PRO14 honours to play for.
That's a help but it also adds extra pressure. Because if they can't beat Leinster in a match where they have so much more at stake than their rivals, when will they ever beat them?
Defeat on Friday would be the final straw for Munster, particularly after the last meeting in the Aviva when they did everything but win.
They may have run up a big score against Connacht yesterday but Munster were much more impressive in defeat the previous week. This was hardly their fault.
The Westerners gave a bravura exhibition of indiscipline which reduced proceedings to farce and resembled something produced by a weekending club team in vengeful mood after a feed of bad pints the night before.
By the 35th minute they were down to 13 men after reckless play by Abraham Papali'i and Shane Delahunt gave referee Frank Murphy no choice but to brandish the red card.
A litany of Connacht offences in that first half saw them penalised at a rate more commonly witnessed in the Ulster football championship.
The half ended with 13 on either side, after Peter O'Mahony and Tadhg Beirne had been yellow carded. That, and the constant stoppages, made both sides seem to be paying an inadvertent tribute to rugby league at its most uninspiring. The second half was somewhat less horrifying.
It's hard to read much into a game like yesterday's but it seems apparent that Munster will rely heavily on one weird trick to upset Leinster.
A fortnight ago CJ Stander's brilliance at the breakdown drove the favourites to distraction as he executed several crucial turnovers.
Yesterday, Beirne's return underlined the massive expertise Munster can call on in this area.
Athletic as ever around the pitch in a man-of-the-match performance, the Kildare man is also European rugby's poacher par excellence on the ground.
If Stander alone caused so much damage to Leinster in this area, Munster are entitled to think that the addition of Beirne might provide a match-winning edge.
Preventing their attacking strength, which depends so much on a supply of quick ball, being neutralised by the efforts of Munster's outstanding duo will be a serious challenge for Leinster.
That's the destructive side of things. What of the constructive?
It remains an oddity that Munster are criticised for a lack of punch behind the scrum when they possess perhaps the two best wings in Irish rugby and two of the best in Europe.
Keith Earls' gifts as a finisher were on show last week and Andrew Conway's were apparent yesterday in the 53rd minute when he chased JJ Hanrahan's clever kick through, outpaced Colm de Buitléar and made a half chance look like a sitter. Few teams in world rugby boast such a potentially deadly duo at 14 and 11.
Yet it says a lot about Munster's shortcomings that in this PRO14 campaign the team have scored fewer tries than Ulster, Glasgow and Cheetahs and 28 fewer than Leinster.
Earls and Conway have done well off scraps but you can only imagine the total Munster's duo might have racked up were they part of Leo Cullen's and Stuart Lancaster's attacking machine.
This problem has dogged Munster for a long time and Stephen Larkham has been charged with its rectification.
On this season's evidence he has an even bigger job on his hands than anticipated. But now he also has Damian de Allende, a world-class centre with the ability to contribute hugely in this area.
Slightly off the pace on his debut, De Allende looked more his usual self against Connacht. The way he cruised through the defence after 50 minutes illustrated his vast potential.
His diplomatic pass to Conway when he could have crossed himself demonstrated an impressive commitment to the team ethic.
Just as encouraging was Conor Murray's performance. Over the past couple of seasons a player who was the best scrum-half in the world at the end of 2018 has looked a shadow of his old self. There has been something jaded about Murray, a suggestion of a man dutifully discharging an arduous function.
It happens. Even Brian O'Driscoll suffered a brief dip midway through his career, though that's obscured by the glorious peaks at its beginning and end. You felt Murray needed a break. But when is there time for a break in the hectic schedule of the elite rugby player? Enter Covid-19 and voila!
The suggestion might be premature but since the restart Murray has looked utterly rejuvenated, his old vim and verve once more in evidence. A beautifully-timed, left-hand pass which sent Beirne strolling in for a try nine minutes into the second half was vintage Murray.
But the real test for the No 9 and his team-mates arrives on Friday. If they lose there will be little consolation in talk of encouraging signs for the future and important progress being made. This is one match Munster simply have to win.
And that's why they might just win it.