Motherwell suffered a humbling 3-0 defeat at Dundee in the cinch Premiership.
Buoyed by recent successes over Aberdeen and Hearts, the Steelmen headed to Dens in a positive mood, looking to extend their winning run.
But goals from Luke McCowan, Danny Mullen and Ryan Sweeney put paid to those hopes, and delivered a reminder of the work still to do for ‘Well.
Sean Goss dropped out of the squad completely from the team which defeated Hearts last weekend, with Liam Grimshaw stepping in.
Kevin van Veen and Jordan Roberts were restored to the bench after missing last weekend’s match through suspension and ineligibility.
At a bitterly cold Dens Park, both sides were slow to get the paying spectators warm.
The first major bit of action came on 17 minutes, when Mullen found himself in behind the ‘Well defence.
Pulling the trigger to the right of the goal 15 yards out, Kelly pulled off a brilliant reaction stop to prevent the hosts opening the scoring.
Motherwell though didn’t heed that warning and found themselves behind after 20 minutes.
A cross from the left wasn’t dealt with and the ball fell kindly to McCowan just inside the box to the left of the goal.
Wiggling free, he found room to fire off a shot from 12 yards which went through the bodies and past Kelly to give the hosts the lead.
Dundee cranked up the pressure, with Anderson going close and then Ashcroft being denied from the resulting corner by an outstanding tip over the ball by Kelly.
While Dundee’s intensity lessened as the half wore on, ‘Well were unable to create anything meaningful up top and went in at half-time with plenty to ponder.
Van Veen and Roberts were introduced at the break in an attempt to shake things up and the Dutchman almost made an immediate impact.
With the ball falling to him close to the left post, he dug out a shot to crack the crossbar just 90 seconds after his introduction.
But hopes of Motherwell momentum growing were instantly zapped.
A free-kick up the other end a minute later was helped back across goal, where Sweeney was the grateful recipient to slide the ball in from close range.
‘Well put balls into the box but couldn’t seriously trouble the home ‘keeper thereafter, and headed back down the road with the need to bounce back immediately at home to Dundee United on Tuesday night.
Motherwell: Kelly, Mugabi, Solholm, Lamie, McGinley, Grimshaw (Roberts 46), Maguire, Slattery, Woolery, Shields (Van Veen 46), Watt.
Subs: Fox, O’Connor, Carroll, O’Donnell, Cornelius.