When things went awry under Joe Schmidt Ireland could rely on the system to get them through, but Andy Farrell has taken their compass and asked them to find their own way. Against Tier Two opposition yesterday, they walked off a cliff.
Sure, they won the match and maintained their 100 per cent home record under the head coach but even he could see the irony in drawing the second-half with Georgia after making so much of winning the second 40 minutes against England last weekend.
Farrell was outwardly annoyed with the performance.
He has given plenty of opportunities this year, but each week there are players doing themselves damage rather than enhancing their claims.
Following Schmidt was always a daunting task for the highly regarded former assistant, but when he accepted the job in December 2018 he can't have imagined that two years later he'd be presiding over such a poor performance from a team featuring four Lions against a side who had not scored against England and Wales in their previous matches.
In fairness to Georgia, they made life difficult for Ireland. Farrell's problem was that Ireland made life doubly hard for themselves.
Before half-time, they played reasonably well.
Giorgi Kveseladze brilliantly exploited poor defending to score his wonder-try, but apart from that sloppy moment and some scrum difficulties, it was a decent effort. They scored two tries, through Billy Burns and Hugo Keenan, and had two chalked off, harshly, by Mathieu Raynal whose fussiness didn't help improve a poor match.
That meant they were only 13 points up at half-time, but there was a sense that the tries would come to put a nice, positive gloss on the scoreboard.
Perhaps that sense seeped into the dressing-room because they left their performance in there.
Georgia continued to cause Finlay Bealham problems at scrum-time, while they attacked Ireland's ruck-ball with great success.
Charged with playing what they saw, the men in awful black and yellow jerseys charged into a maroon wall and coughed up the ball.
Poor decisions were followed by awful execution.
Ireland spent seven whole minutes in Georgia's '22', but could manage only those two first-half efforts.
They lacked guile and composure, became increasingly directionless after Burns went off injured and once again lost the tight-five battle despite Iain Henderson and James Ryan doing a number on the visiting lineout.
It was one of those days where CJ Stander's one-dimensional approach summed up his team's lack of ideas.
The Munster No 8 had a quiet day at Twickenham and he seemed determined to make up for it by running over every Georgian he could find, even when his team-mates were in better positions.
Stander's numbers almost always look good and there's no doubting his courage, but the quality trumps quantity if the system is based on decision-making.
It was fitting that it was the South African who was rushed into touch as Ireland searched for a try to put some sheen on things towards the end.
That's not to say he should shoulder the burden of the team's struggles. As head coach, Farrell bears the responsibility.
While England and France refine areas of strength ahead of next year's Six Nations, Ireland are plugging holes all over the team.
The scrum is a mess, their attack came up short against poor opposition, their breakdown was sub-standard and their decision-making is off.
If they produce anything like that level against Scotland next weekend, they'll be well beaten.
That game is a third/fourth-placed play-off in a meaningless competition that no one will remember, but for Farrell and Ireland it is a must-perform, must-win game.
This window is all about arriving at the 2021 Six Nations in good fettle, but after a decent win against Wales, a poor outing at Twickenham and a dreadful second-half yesterday there is pressure on the team to deliver something they can cling to when they re-assemble in the New Year.
Johnny Sexton's return will help, but when you're relying on your 35-year-old captain to pull you out of a hole it's a pretty worrying place to be.
Farrell will be given time to fix things, but this has been a mediocre first year in charge. Next week he and the players have another chance to show that next year will be better.
Yesterday's second-half can never be repeated if they want to be taken seriously as a team.