Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes lambasted his players after this supine display at Fir Park, their last outing before the Betfred Cup final against holders Celtic at Hampden next weekend.
The Dons picked the wrong game to turn in their poorest performance of the campaign and there was blood on the walls of the away dressing room at Fir Park following a heated post-mortem.
McInnes had gathered his thoughts before meeting the media afterwards but they were dark and troubled and there was a sense of bafflement as to where this desperately poor showing had come from.
“It was an awful performance and a total contrast to how we’ve been of late,” he said.
“We’ve shown resilience, kept plenty of clean sheets and restricted our opponents but today we were well beaten all over the pitch and two of the goals we conceded were calamitous.
“I looked for a response but the substitutes never offered much to change the game. The third goal came from a ricochet but it was no less than Motherwell deserved and we have a lot of work to do ahead of the cup final.”
Aberdeen looked the more likely side for the opening quarter of this contest but they proved to be false Dons. With Mark Gillespie making his debut in goal for the hosts, the opportunity was there to put the former Walsall man under pressure.
However, captain Graeme Shinnie squandered a glorious opportunity to give his side the lead in the 21st minute when he screwed a right-foot shot wide from 12 yards after being teed up by the impressive Max Lowe.
At that stage, the travelling fans at Fir Park sat back and waited for the floodgates to open, not realising that the goals were about to be scored into the goal they had congregated behind.
Niall McGinn claimed an unwanted assist with a sloppy pass which was pounced on by Danny Johnson just inside the Aberdeen half. He turned on the afterburners, Shay Logan couldn’t catch him and the striker caressed the ball inside Joe Lewis’s left-hand post from the far corner of the penalty area.
Motherwell’s second goal was conceded just as cheaply. Lewis believed he had kept them at bay when he pushed Gael Bigirimana’s free-kick behind. But Curtis Main and Johnson were both left unmarked at the resulting corner and the latter bulleted the former’s flick-on home from three yards.
Lowe, who had also seen James Wilson waste an opening he had created for him, was then denied by a fine diving save from Gillespie
The ineffective Wilson was replaced by Sam Cosgrove for the second half but Aberdeen were, if anything, even more ineffectual and soon found themselves three goals down.
Lewis Ferguson made a hash of a clearance, which struck Main and fell benignly for midfielder David Turnbull, who took a second to compose himself before smacking the ball low inside Lewis’s right-hand post from 15 yards.
There was no way back for Aberdeen after that and, in truth, with better finishing Motherwell’s winning margin could have been greater.