With three wins in their previous four League games, Hartlepool were beginning to suggest they are in a false position near the foot of the Third Division table.
But in just 90 minutes on Saturday they proved that they are exactly where they belong.
Their worst performance so far saw a modest Oxford side chalk up their first win in eight games to leapfrog above Pool.
And boss Chris Turner admitted: "We wouldn't have scored if we'd played until midnight."
No wonder Turner's looking for new players. He's hoping for talks this week with Ross County striker Derek Holmes, currently on loan at Bournemouth, after a £20,000 offer was accepted. Turner said: "For the first time this season we didn't create any chances.
"It was our worst so far - we lacked ideas and composure. I don't think we deserved to lose, but we certainly didn't deserve to win either."
Pool lost skipper Mickey Barron through illness after just 17 minutes, and Turner's decision to switch Tommy Widdrington from midfield to defence to replace him while Paul Stephenson came on left Pool with no drive.
Too many players were out of sorts while others appeared to be trying too hard.
The result was some awful passing that virtually presented the game to Oxford.
The first half was a stinker, and it got worse for Pool two minutes into the second when the defence crowded in on Jamie Brooks as he ran at them and the ball broke back for unmarked Paul Moody to plant a low shot into the bottom corner from 30 yards.
Pool keeper Anthony Williams had already made one great save from Moody in the first half and he foiled him again as well as David Savage after the goal.
Home sub Kevin Henderson hit the Oxford bar with a header 12 minutes from the end but despite occasional promise from Adam Boyd and Gordon Watson it was all Pool could offer.
They are missing Tommy Miller perhaps even more than anybody expected them to, and Turner's keenness to spend some of the cash Miller earned the club is understandable.
This result suggests he shouldn't stop with an unknown striker from Scotland.
FA Cup First Round
In yesterday's FA Cup first round draw, Darlington were handed an away tie at fellow Third Division side Kidderminster, Hartlepool were given a tough-looking trip to Second Division Swindon, while Carlisle were also drawn away, to the winners of the Havant & Waterlooville v Barnet tie, which finished 1-1 on Saturday.