Sale boss Steve Diamond says his side couldn’t handle the psychological battle with Saints.
And he admitted it was tough to keep his players’ heads on the job after they secured survival ahead of their trip to Franklin’s Gardens.
Saints thrashed Sale 47-7 on Saturday evening, running in seven tries in their most emphatic victory of the season.
It was one-way traffic from start to finish, leaving the away side to reflect on a hefty beating.
And Diamond said: “It pretty much mirrors the first half of the season for us. It was a difficult game.
“Last week we performed really well against Gloucester and it was pretty difficult keeping their heads on it coming here.
“That’s what happens when you play a top side. We couldn’t handle their power and we couldn’t handle it psychologically.”
While he laid plenty of blame at the door of his players, Diamond also felt referee Luke Pearce played a part in the Sharks’ humbling defeat.
“We just made basic mistakes,” he said. “We started off really well, keeping the ball, but we’re one of the poorer sides, which is obvious by our league position.
“I’ll probably get a telling off, but we had one of the worst refs as well. We got penalised at every Northampton put-in at the scrum.
“We couldn’t get any base in the game at all. We couldn’t handle them, we couldn’t handle the decisions and we were on the wrong end of a 50-pointer. We’re very disappointed.”