Their cause is basically lost and they are badly depleted by injuries and suspension, but the encouragement of a midweek victory over Aston Villa was washed by a display much worse than the 2-0 scoreline suggested.
Chief football writer Stuart Rayner looks at how each player performed.
Aaron Ramsdale – given plenty of opportunity to show what he could do by the defence in front of him and made some good second-half saves 8
George Baldock – did well to deny Che Adams in the first half but he was part of a very vulnerable-looking defence not helped by those in front 6
Ethan Amapdu – a good tackle on Ryan Bertrand, then a poor one on Nathan Tella to concede the penalty – the loanee's Sheffield United career has been a bit like that 5
Kean Bryan – over-run in the second half 5
Jayden Bogle – Chris Wilder shuffled the side to accommodate his return but he was unable to have an impact 6
John Lundstram – a really poor display from the Blades midfielder 4
Oliver Norwood – played one nice pass to set off an attack down the right, but did not do enough as in too many games this season, and was withdrawn at half-time 5
John Fleck – played a couple of good balls in the first half only to see his targets offside. A second-half tackle enraged the Saints and earned him a booking 6
Enda Stevens – had a header wide around the hour mark, one of the last times his team threatened 6
David McGoldrick – the captain looked threatening dropping off the front but was unable to make anything of it, having a chip saved 6
Rhian Brewster – no lack of effort but he once more struggled to make an impact in his tough debut season 5.
Oli McBurnie (for Norwood, 46) – started at centre-forward, quickly dropped into the hole, but with his side unable to keep the ball, there was always a limit to what he could do 5
Lys Mousset (for McGoldrick, 58) – paused to think about a second-half cross, them blazed it beyond his team-mates anyway 5
Billy Sharp (for Brewster, 68) – none of the substitutes could really have been expected to change things 5.
Not used: Lowe, Burke, Foderingham, Osborn, Ndiaye, Maguire.
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