Jonny May scored two tries as Gloucester beat Northampton 18-16 at Franklin's Gardens in the Aviva Premiership on Saturday.
Northampton's slide continued as Jim Mallinder's side fell to their fifth straight Aviva Premiership defeat.
International call-ups, including England quartet Ben Foden, Chris Ashton, Dylan Hartley and Tom Wood, have left the Saints significantly weakened in recent weeks.
But their current malaise in the Premiership dates back to January, when all of their stars were available, and this latest reverse was another damaging blow to their hopes of a top-four finish.
Gloucester winger Jonny May scored two tries for the Cherry and Whites to help them to their fourth Premiership win in succession to further underline their play-off pedigree.
A penalty from Northampton fly-half Stephen Myler put the hosts ahead but Gloucester hit back in style and in the 21st minute May burst clear for his first score and Nicky Robinson added the extras.
Myler's second penalty kept Northampton in touch but May grabbed his second try of the game three minutes before with another well-worked move and clinical finish.
Robinson failed to convert and seven minutes after the restart Northampton full-back Greig Tonks collected possession and crashed over for a try which Myler converted.
However, Robinson landed two penalties to give Gloucester breathing space and although Myler's third penalty meant Northampton claimed a losing bonus point, the sense of disappointment around Franklin's Gardens at the final whistle was palpable.
Pens: Myler 3
Tries: May 2
Pens: Robinson 2
Northampton: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Bruce Reihana, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Paul Diggin, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Ryan Powell, 8 Mark Easter, 7 Phil Dowson (capt), 6 Calum Clark, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Dan Vickerman, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Brett Sharman, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Andy Long, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Christian Day, 20 Courtney Lawes, 21 Stuart Commins, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Scott Armstrong.
Gloucester: 15 Olly Morgan, 14 Jonny May, 13 Tim Molenaar, 12 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 11 Tom Voyce, 10 Nicky Robinson, 9 Jordi Pasqualin, 8 Luke Narraway (capt), 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Peter Buxton, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Will James, 3 Paul Doran-Jones, 2 Olivier Azam, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Rupert Harden, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Alasdair Strokosch, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Henry Trinder.
Date: Saturday, February 26
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Referee: Martin Fox