The Lions are used to reaching the Super Rugby showpiece match but a 37-17 defeat to the Hurricanes has endangered their play-off hopes
The Lions have battled the heartache of losing the last three Super Rugby finals but a different level of disappointment may await the Johannesburg team.
They face potential play-off exile if they fail to beat the Bulls in next week's final round of the regular season, after Saturday saw them blown away 37-17 by the Hurricanes at Ellis Park.
Swys de Bruin's team were in the game at half-time, when 10-10 was just reward for a promising performance that saw wing Aphiwe Dyantyi cross for their try, but it was a different story after the interval.
Ben Lam touched down for the Hurricanes in the early moments of the second half and the Wellington side pulled away, with Lam again touching down and Dane Coles also finishing with a brace.
The Hurricanes, meanwhile, are now guaranteed to be seeded and bolstered by home advantage for their quarter-final in the play-offs.