THEY say the darkest hour comes just before the dawn, but on this showing that prophecy feels like a large dose of wishful thinking.

This was as bleak as it gets; after conceding 50 plus points in suffering a Challenge Cup knockout which effectively ends the club’s most realistic chance of silverware this season only the most eternal of optimists will see anything resembling a shaft of light at the end of the tunnel.

And to make matters worse it is only May.

The display was magnified because it is the cup – a competition in which Saints have had such a strong pedigree in.

Fifty six years to day Saints wore the now iconic red vee jersey at Wembley for the first time, with Vinty Karalius lifting the famous pot beneath the Twin Towers.

Well the Wild Bull of the Pampas will have been spinning in his grave at this lack of heart, doggedness and self-belief which was as telling as the poor levels of skill, execution and application.

In a pattern of recent weeks Saints once again came up with sloppy errors which gifted the hosts plenty of opportunities to attack.

And when 50:50s and dropped balls did go against Saints, heads dropped and they felt sorry for themselves and allowed the Tigers to take full advantage.

In the end it was embarrassing with a scoreline to reflect the gulf. No wonder interim coach Jamahl Lolesi apologized to the fans.

Admittedly Castleford ran hot – but they were allowed to by a Saints side that for all bar a 10 minute first half spell allowed them to play.

Weak defence had allowed Tigers to take a 10-0 lead courtesy of ex-Saint Michael Shenton on the left and Jake Webster on the right.

But in what would prove to be Saints’ best spell of the game Ryan Morgan attempted to atone for his earlier defensive lapse when he plucked Matty Smith’s out of the air to peg one back.

And Saints could and maybe should have levelled when Zeb Taia looked as though he may have got the ball down on 23 minutes, only for the video referee to back up the on field decision and call it short.

Suddenly the black and gold whirlwind struck and following a punishing nine-minute spell the scoreboard read an eye-watering 31-4.

After Adam Swift was penalized for taking Greg Eden in the air, Cas marched the full length to allow Ben Roberts to launch a precision kick for Webster to score his second try.

After an attack from deep saw Eden initially stopped by James Roby four men inexplicably allowed Paul McShane to do a Houdini impression to score from close range.

It got worse seconds later when Roberts broke through the middle before measuring his kick for Greg Minikin to race on to and that was game, set and match.

A Gale drop goal seemed an unnecessary insurance policy, even more so when Nathan Massey grabbed their sixth on the stroke of half time.

At 31-4 there was never going to be a way back and two Eden tries in six minutes rubbed Saints’ nose in it.

Although Swift bundled Tom Holmes into touch to stop another long range score, it simply delayed the inevitable.

And a straightforward passing routine fashioned space for Eden to complete his hat-trick.

Fellow wing Minikin raced in for his second to bring up the embarrassing 50-point scoreline.

Saints prop Luke Douglas grabbed a consolation on 73 minutes - one greeted with mockery and sarcastic cheers with Mark Percival's goal making it 53-10.

A defeat on this scale would be hard to stomach at the best of times, but with it comes what feels like the end of the season and a hard slog through the summer when it appears that the most realistic thing they can aim for is to avoid the Middle 8s.

Justin Holbrook will arrive next week – and the scale of the operation he has after this cannot be under-estimated and beyond this year that must involve personnel.

The immediate promise of Easter has soon unravelled - culminating in this shambles.

A new coach with a strategy, a fresh pair of eyes and different voice may go some way but the team is in a pretty deep hole at the moment on both sides of the ball, one that is going to take some pulling out of.