Northamptonshire (17pts) defeated Worcestershire (3pts) by 137 runs
There isn't much doubt about it. The wheels have come off for Worcestershire.
Four successive County Championship defeats have transformed them from promotion hopefuls into midtable shadows and the latest of them, inside three days, came with a cruel price tag.
Chasing an already unlikely looking victory target against Northamptonshire, skipper Vikram Solanki played forward to a ball that rose off a length from Ben Phillips - and ended up with a broken thumb.
Worcestershire coach Steve Rhodes is hopeful that Solanki might not be out too long. But, even allowing for a timely nine-day break without a game, the captain looks almost certain to miss at the very least his side's next Championship fixture against Somerset at New Road on Tuesday week.
"It never rains but it pours," admitted Rhodes. "Vikram's injury is in a place where generally an injury like this would take two to three weeks to repair. But we're just hoping he proves a quick healer, as now would not be a good time in the season to lose him.
"I'm certain that there's not a lot wrong. But we've now got a good break coming up and we're hoping that recharges the lads' batteries.
"The bottom line is that we're not getting enough runs. And too many players simply didn't perform for us with the bat in this game."
One of those was Graeme Hick, who picked the wrong week to bag his first pair in 22 seasons of Championship cricket. And that further highlighted the frustration of seeing another potential matchwinning first innings bowling display by Shoaib Akhtar go to waste.
It's obvious even to an untrained eye that Shoaib has not fitted well into the Worcester dressing room. And his glaring lack of fitness, his constant mini-breaks from the field, the interminable time he takes to bowl an over and his lack of energy in the outfield have made him a marked man with the knowledgable New Road crowd.
But, if you're going to risk bringing in such a potentially disruptive player, then you need backing from the rest of the team. And Shoaib's two Championship appearances, despite an impressive but expensive haul of 14 wickets, have now brought successive defeats.
At least, for the county's sake, he has been spared disciplinary action as a result of his on-field loss of temper as Worcestershire watched this game slip away from them on Friday night.
An apology to umpire Roy Palmer was enough to close the book on that one. And Worcestershire remain publicly supportive of this volatile performer.
"He's a character," said chief executive Mark Newton. "And inevitably there are difficult issues to deal with."
One player who escaped criticism was Ben Smith who kept his side in it by staying 146 balls to hit 93. And it was only when he misjudged a sweep and was bowled by
Monty Panesar to be ninth out on 211 that Worcestershire's defeat became a certainty.
Earlier, Northants skipper David Sales had gone on to reach 190 as the visitors
added a further 87 runs for the final four wickets.
The only source of encouragement to the home side was that Gareth Batty and Zander De Bruyn got through their overs quickly enough to lessen the penalty they knew they had coming their way.
Instead of the four-point deduction Worcester were in line for at one point on Friday evening, when Shoaib was on a go-slow, they had got it back to a one-point penalty by the end of the game. It was their third deduction of the season, and their second in as many games.
Having been set 360 to win, things looked bleak when they not only lost Hick to a third successive duck, but leading run scorer Stephen Moore.
Then came the blow to Solanki. But, despite a brave effort by the skipper to support Smith in a stand of 69 and a further 71 put on with De Bruyn, the writing was already on the wall.
From 154 to three, following the loss of De Bruyn, the Worcestershire tail folded for the second time in a fortnight to the spin of Panesar - a cause for concern.
The only question now is whether the wheels can be put back on in time to rescue a once promising season.