It could be said that Saracens have somewhat been on auto-pilot this season.

The road may not have always been smooth, with Northampton Saints offering up a Samu Manoa-sized speed bump on two occasions so far but they have come through relatively unscathed.

Watching Sarries against London Irish on Saturday was like watching the Sarries of old - everything they have become synonymous for in recent years disappeared out the window.

It would be so easy to pick out everything that was wrong with the defeat but it is in the past now and it won’t change anything.

Instead, what are the positives?

Like already mentioned, setbacks have happened already this season but, no disrespect to London Irish, they were by teams, Northampton and Toulouse, that you expect to pose a strong challenge.

Maybe this loss will be the wake-up call Mark McCall’s men need before the season reaches it’s climax.

Long gone are the days of the Men in Black being scathed for being big spending under-achievers - now there is a weight of expectation on their shoulders.

This time last season Saracens were still in the hunt for the treble. This is no different this season.

However, last year ended in three heartbreaking semi-final defeats - a wrong they will want to put right.

Saracens are a better team than they were this time last year.

The missing piece of a big ball carrier has been filled, namely by the signing of Billy Vunipola, who continues to impress each week for both club and country.

His combination with brother Mako is a joy for Saracens fans to see and a fearsome one for the opposition.

The team has also significantly expanded their style of play, from boring, pragmatic Saracens to a serious attacking force that boasts the top try-scorers in both the Premiership and the Heineken Cup.

Hopefully the London Irish defeat will spur the team on.

It was an uncharacteristic performance but perhaps a season-defining one too.