England began picking up the pieces after a record defeat against South Africa, with scrum-half Andy Gomarsall admitting: 'Reality has hit us.'
Wing Iain Balshaw has become the latest victim of an ill-fated trip, flying home on Sunday night after undergoing minor surgery to repair a shin wound.
It is yet another setback for Balshaw during an injury-ravaged career, and he follows his Gloucester colleague Nick Wood (torn chest muscle), in seeing his tour reach a premature end.
Prop Wood was hurt during training last week, but despite also losing Balshaw, England released a better-than-anticipated medical bulletin about their other Bloemfontein casualties with Jonny Wilkinson (back), Andy Hazell (knee) and Pat Sanderson (neck) all expected to be in the selection reckoning for the second Test.
And wing David Strettle is also on the mend after being discharged from hospital where he required rehydration treatment following the effects of a stomach virus that also laid low several other players, including Andy Farrell and Peter Richards.
England, blitzed in record 58-10 fashion by the Springboks on Saturday, have just five days to regroup, mentally and physically, before meeting South Africa again, this time in Pretoria.
Gomarsall acquitted himself well on his return to the Test arena following a two-and-a-half-year absence, but he knows there can be no time for a prolonged post-mortem of England's seventh successive away defeat.
He said: 'While everyone is disappointed and heads are down, we've got to pick ourselves up.
"You cannot fault the effort, but application occasionally let us down.
'Reality has hit us, and we have got to deal with it.
'We had a terrible week with guys going down last minute. At the team run, we weren't too sure whether the guys who were ill were going to come back in. It didn't help, but it is not an excuse, not by any stretch of the imagination.
'For half the match we were competitive and in the game, no problem. We need to stretch that out, and it is up to us all to sort it out.
'I thought the game plan actually worked very well. We were creating space for the runners we've got, and we were in behind them, but then all of a sudden we would lose possession and they would go the length of the field.
England flanker James Haskell insists he will be pushing as hard as possible to be back from a toe injury in time to make his case for a spot in Eddie Jones' side looking to defend their RBS 6 Nations title next year.