SALFORD owner Marwan Koukash issued an apology for his side's 38-0 thrashing by St Helens in their First Utility Super League match at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Back-to-back wins in their opening two games had given Koukash's expensively-assembled Red Devils a chance to go top of the table for the first time in the summer-season era, but they were given a reality check by their red-hot visitors.
It was all too easy for Saints as Australian scrum-half Luke Walsh followed up his 18-point haul on debut a fortnight earlier with another 18 from seven goals and one of his side's six tries.
"Apologies to our fans for a very bad performance tonight and well done Saints," Koukash tweeted within 10 minutes of the final whistle. "We won't play this bad again."
Saints never looked back after racing into a 12-0 lead inside 10 minutes thanks to tries from second rower Jon Wilkin and Walsh.
Salford briefly stemmed the tide following the introduction of skipper Adrian Morley from the bench but were swept aside after the break, with promising centre Mark Percival scoring two of four second-half tries.
"I am disappointed but those kind of things can happen with a new team," said Reds coach Brian Noble. "There were some great lessons for us.
"I would be more disappointed if that was round eight, nine or 10 and we dished up something like that.
"We got caught at the start but we got back in the game and that breakaway try 10 minutes into the second half knocked the stuffing out of us.
"I suppose for us the honeymoon period is over internally. We've been taking small steps, we've been looking at different combintions and pretty much everyone has played.
"It's important we now get down to the nitty gritty of some tough practices and recognise it's a marathon and not a sprint.
"There is nothing I have seen that we can't improve on. The players are probably more disappointed than me."
Salford's misery was compounded by the loss of England forward Gareth Hock 16 minutes from the end with a foot injury.
"It doesn't look good," Noble said. "He's going for a scan tomorrow and I'm keeping my fingers crossed but it's looking like a six or seven week job."
St Helens maintained their early-season promise with a third straight win that lifts them to the top of the table but coach Nathan Brown was not getting carried away.
"We're obviously happy with the result," he said. "It was tough.
"We had to work hard to get the score we did.
"I think we're a work in progress. The guys working hard for each other but we know to catch up with Leeds and Wigan and Huddersfield and those sides, we've got to keep our feet on the ground and keep working hard and improve.
"Our defence seems to be improving, we're not perfect but the pleasing thing is that, when things go wrong, the guys are covering for each other."