Sale Sharks' prospects of retaining their Guinness Premiership crown look increasingly bleak after they failed even to notch a bonus point in a 26-18 defeat to Wasps on Sunday.
England hopeful Mark Cueto marked his first Sale start for two months with a try for the champions but his effort proved in vain.
Wasps, trailing 10-0 after only 18 minutes, hit back to secure victory, with fly-half Alex King kicking 16 points.
With coach Brian Ashton having named his England side for Saturday's Six Nations clash with Ireland in Dublin a week early, winger Cueto will not receive an immediate dividend on the international front either.
Ashton's ploy to pressurise the clubs into resting their England stars met with only partial success but he escaped without any further injury problems.
Wasps left out England skipper Phil Vickery, included Josh Lewsey on the right wing for the entire match and did not introduce flanker Joe Worsley, recalled by Ashton after missing the win over Italy with a neck injury and who sat on the bench for the entire 80 minutes this afternoon.
France hooker and skipper Raphael Ibanez, also named on the bench, played for the final 25 minutes.
But there was a problem for France ahead of their clash with Wales in Paris when their number eight Sebastien Chabal, brought on by Sale in the 63rd minute, limped off only eight minutes later with a calf injury which puts his participation in doubt.
Sale started with England's Jason Robinson at full-back - who certainly did not hold back - and flanker Magnus Lund, with both playing the full match.
Injury-ravaged Sale, who started the game in sixth spot and 2005 champions Wasps, who began in fourth, both declined to leave out their stars as they chased the points in their bid for a top-four play-off place.
Sale opened up a 10-point lead when fly-half Rhys Jones landed a long-range penalty and added the conversion after flanker Chris Jones put Cueto over in the right-hand corner after 18 minutes following a sustained spell of pressure.
But Wasps, with the pace of discarded England winger Tom Voyce proving a constant threat, hit back.
Voyce had a try disallowed when the video replay showed he had not touched down properly after squeezing between Lund and Sale scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth.
But he sparked the second try with the break which enabled centre Jeremy Staunton to quickly move the ball on for Tom Rees - one of the England replacements in Dublin - to score in the corner.
King converted and kicked two penalties, and Rhys Jones made one for Sale, as Wasps levelled at 13-13 three minutes into the second half.
King's third penalty, after Cueto had been punished for a high tackle on Voyce, put the home side 16-13 ahead in the 57th minute and he kicked another eight minutes later.
Wasps stretched their lead with a 70th-minute try from Staunton, converted by King.
And even though Sale hit back with a 79th-minute try from centre Chris Bell, Rhys Jones missed the conversion and then a penalty which would have secured his side a consolation bonus point.
Tries: Rees, Staunton
Cons: King 2
Pens: King 4
For Sale Sharks:
Tries: Cueto, Bell
Pens: Jones 2
Wasps: 15 Danny Cipriani, 14 Josh Lewsey, 13 Fraser Waters, 12 Jeremy Staunton, 11 Tom Voyce, 10 Alex King, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Lawrence Dallaglio (c), 7 Tom Rees, 6 Joe Worsley, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Peter Bracken, 2 Joe Ward, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Raphael Ibanez, 17 Nick Adams, 18 Dan Leo, 19 James Haskell, 20 Simon Amor, 21 Martin Purdy, 22 Mark VanGisbergen.
Sale Sharks: 15 Jason Robinson (c), 14 Mark Cueto, 13 Mark Taylor, 12 Chris Mayor, 11 Ben Foden, 10 Rhys Jones, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 7 Magnus Lund, 6 Chris Jones, 5 Chris Day, 4 Dean Schofield, 3 Stuart Turner, 2 Andy Titterrell, 1 Eifion Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Sebastien Bruno, 17 Ben Evans/Andrew Sheridan, 18 Sebastien Chabal, 19 David Tait, 20 Sean Cox, 21 Chris Bell, 22 Oriol Ripol.
Referee: Tony Spreadbury
Touch judges: Robin Goodliffe, Andrew Pearce
Television match official: Brian Abrahams, Geoff Warren