England departed Dublin with a resounding 20-9 victory yesterday, inflicting a fourth successive Test defeat on the Irish and a sixth loss in eight internationals.
Apart from the morale-sapping result and performance, the highly-attritional showdown at Lansdowne Road had further implications for the World Cup in the loss of David Wallace.
Wallace, the Munster openside, sustained a serious knee injury and will miss the tournament with Shane Jennings travelling to New Zealand in his place.
The disturbing casualty rate continued with Cian Healy, whose own departure has been delayed by four days because of damage to his eye socket.
Healy is now a doubt for the World Cup opener against the USA on September 11, as must be Jamie Heaslip who was concussed against England.
The fitness of Jerry Flannery (shin) and Stephen Ferris (hand) was also being monitored on Saturday night, while Brian O'Driscoll (stinger) and Sean O'Brien (knee) could yet miss the start of the tournament. Save from having O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell ruled out, it is hard to imagine how the squad's build-up could have been worse.
History seems to be repeating itself with this month's developments evoking painful memories of 2007, but O'Connell is adamant the World Cup is not a lost cause.
"Absolutely we can turn this around," said the Lions captain.
"It's been a disappointing four weeks but we're confident that when we get to New Zealand we'll be able to perform.
"We have an excellent squad and excellent players, there's no denying that.
"We may not have produced our best form over the last few weeks but I've no doubt we can perform in New Zealand.
"Guys are disappointed but morale won't be particularly affected by what's happened.
"With the experience we have in the dressing room and among the coaching staff, I believe we can produce."
Pursuing a punishing schedule of four warm-up Tests against such high-calibre opposition always looked risky at best, but has since proven to be pure folly.
Losses to Scotland, France home and away and now England ensure the squad will be afflicted by self-doubt when they leave for New Zealand on Tuesday.
Throw in the deeply-worrying injury list and failure to score a try in three of this month's four Tests, and Ireland's World Cup prospects are looking bleak.
Thrashing England five months ago to deny them the Grand Slam is now a distant memory, but O'Connell insists recent events may even prove to be of assistance.
"Beating England in March was good for us but it came on the back of a few disappointing performances and knowing what we needed to do," he said.
"We're probably back in that place now. We know what we need to work on.
"If the disappointment of the last four weeks puts us in a position where we can put things right, that won't be a bad thing.
"It was an attritional game yesterday. They got ahead early on and were quite dogged after that.
"Credit to them, they do that quite well and have done it quite well in the past.
"They were happy to live off our mistakes and errors and are good at that."
Another worrying development was Ireland's problems at the breakdown, where they were comfortably second best to England.
"The breakdown is a good part of our game but every so often you need a reminder of where you need to be at," said O'Connell.
"Yesterday was probably one of those for us. They put numbers in and hit us hard.
"A lot of it was illegal, but they got away with a lot of it.
"They gave away a lot of penalties and had a man in the bin, but they achieved what they wanted to achieve - they slowed down our ball.
"It was very effective for them and that will be an important eye opener for us heading to the World Cup.
"The breakdown is something we regard as a strength of ours."
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