Ireland's preparations for the World Cup were marred by a second successive defeat, but they could take comfort from a spirited display in the 19-12 defeat to France at the Stade Chaban-Delmas.
Memories of four years ago, when the Irish were based in Bordeaux for a pool from which they failed to emerged, came flooding back as the French dominated the first half.
Vincent Clerc emerged as chief tormentor yet again after crossing for his ninth try in nine games against Ireland, while Dimitri Yachvili kicked eight points.
Leading 13-0 and playing like World Cup contenders, France then failed to impress for the second half.
Ireland, strengthened by the arrival of Paul O'Connell and Jamie Heaslip from the bench, sensed the change with Ronan O'Gara leading the fightback.
O'Gara's tactical kicking was superb and he landed three penalties in quick succession to blow a game now littered with substitutions wide open.
But France clung on with Yachvili on target once more, leaving coach Marc Lievremont to puzzle over how his side can lurch from looking like world beaters to a rabble so quickly.
Clerc crossed in the 18th minute when Ireland were scrambling frantically in defence and they failed to prevent winger Alexis Palisson brilliantly slipping the ball out of the tackle to Clerc - who raced over with Yachvili converting.