Languishing at the foot of the New Zealand conference and below even the hapless Reds, the Chiefs are paying the price of making a coaching appointment they should never have made.
When speculation mounted in late 2016 that the Chiefs were lining up Colin Cooper to take over from Dave Rennie it was easy to dismiss as unlikely to be true.
Easy, because it lacked ambition. It was the equivalent of picking vanilla in an ice-cream parlour with exotic and bold flavours.
It reeked of the Chiefs putting a safe pair of hands at the helm at the end of a season which had seen the club's reputation all but destroyed following their infamous post-season celebrations.
Rennie had told the board in August 2016 that 2017 would be his last season.
It gave the Chiefs an extended period to find his successor but when neither Warren Gatland nor Joe Schmidt was remotely tempted, an element of panic seemingly set in.
The club's then chief executive, Andrew Flexman, had handled things extraordinarily poorly in the early stages of the Strippergate scandal when he called into question the integrity of the complainant and then stropped off from a media scrum as if he couldn't understand why so much fuss was being made of a little high jinks.
He, and no doubt other key figures at the club, were feeling under all sorts of pressure late in 2016 and Cooper rode in like the white knight he wanted to be, offering staid, sensible decision-making and a calm voice.
Vanilla suddenly looked good.
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Cooper is a genuinely credible figure, widely respected and admired for his years of service.
At 60, he's by some distance the oldest New Zealand head coach in Super Rugby and it was his maturity, reliability and steadiness that drew the Chiefs to him in 2016.
They obviously felt they needed a low-risk appointment. A coach who, if nothing else, would kill the media storm about the club's culture and bring the focus back to selections, tactics and performances.
They needed someone at the helm who would reassure sponsors that the club was on an even keel culturally and unlikely to implode again.
But what looks to have not been asked during the appointment process, is whether Cooper could bring the Chiefs a title.
Yes, he could bring stability and reassurance. Yes, he could bring Super Rugby experience and yes, he could ensure discipline would be good both on and off the field.
What about a title though? Did anyone involved in the appointment process really consider that question with the depth and seriousness it deserved?
If they did and concluded the answer was, yes, Cooper could turn the Chiefs back into champions, then it would be intriguing to know how that conclusion was reached.
He had eight seasons as head coach of the Hurricanes, who for much of his tenure had an incredible array of talent, and the closest he got was making the final in 2006.
There were plenty of semi-finals appearances to ensure that Cooper left with a record that will hold comparison with the better Super Rugby coaches of the past decade, but there is a not-so-subtle difference between being a good coach and being a champion coach.
And besides, the year after Cooper left, his successor, Mark Hammett, felt he had inherited a player-run environment where too many senior figures were a disruptive influence.
So with the greatest respect to Cooper, a rugby man to his core, a likeable and affable character who is loyal, determined, knowledgeable and quaintly but not overly old-school, there is nothing in his history that says he's ready or capable of taking a Super Rugby team to a title.
More likely is that the Chiefs' appointment team were never focused on success, or if they were, they considered success to be stabilising the club and keeping it scandal-free rather than winning titles.
That's why they are just one place ahead of the Sunwolves at the moment and losing touch with the other New Zealand clubs, all of whom have coaching teams they can justly argue have the pedigree to bring titles.
Leon MacDonald has won Super Rugby as a player and assistant coach with the Crusaders, while his assistant, Tom Coventry, also won titles as an assistant with the Chiefs.
John Plumtree was the assistant at the Hurricanes when they won in 2016; Scott Robertson has coached the Crusaders to two titles, while Aaron Mauger won several championships as a player and his Highlanders team are still in the thick of this campaign.
Whatever the Chiefs were thinking or wanted to achieve when they appointed Cooper, they now have to ask themselves the question they never did in 2016 about the likelihood of a title coming him with him at the helm.
Presumably they realise they are not going to win Super Rugby in 2019.
But what about 2020?
Can they see things changing so radically next year that they are going to be 14 places higher?
What would lead them to believe that? What evidence do they have that such a turnaround is possible with the current coaching team?
They made an appointment that was understandable in 2016 but it has run its course: ceased to fit the club's current needs and to double down and give Cooper the third year of his contract would be not so much unjustifiable as unforgivable.
Professional sport has to be driven by more inspiring values than chasing stability.
The Chiefs need a new coach and a new aspiration.