Winchester's prime target for their first season back in South League Premier Division 1 was survival, duly achieved with a recent Micah Smithard inspired 4-2 win at relegation troubled Henley.
But, in the final week of the season, Ben Hibberd's squad were given two sharp reminders of the quality they need if they are to progress and become National League Western Conference aspirants.
In midweek a crushing 6-0 defeat by Oxford Hawks saw their hosts confirmed as SPL1 champions and with it a ticket to play alongside Fareham and Havant in the Western Conference next autumn.
Then followed a 5-1 home defeat by second placed Old Cranleighans, who have stayed in the top esheleons throughout the season and could still take runner-up spot with one game to go.
The OC's game started brightly for Winchester and they looked to have scored in the first three minutes with the ball crossing the goaline a moment after the umpire had blown for a penalty corner.
However, the action then switched mainly to the other end with Winchester's goalkeeper Ally Birch excellently saving a penalty corner away to his left, but was unable to keep out a better directed effort a minute later.
The game at Kings' was being played at a high pace, something that suited the ultra-fit Surrey visitors who's passing accuracy at speed was excellent viewing.
Winchester on the other hand, having been dragged into the same style, struggled to find their own players and relinquished the ball too readily and had to scramble to defend.
Winchester held firm for 20 minutes, but were undone before half time by two penalty corner goals, the first half saved on the line but bouncing in off the post, the second a low effort to Birch's left.
Drawing breath at the break, Winchester (3-0 down) had their best spell in the opening 15 minutes and came close as Craig Jeffery played a sharp one-two with Ben Hibberd taking him into the "D", but firing just wide.
Shortly afterwards, Cranleighans took themselves clear of any trouble with their best goal, a flowing move ending in a reverse strike to make it 4-0.
With five minutes remaining, Birch was wrong-footed as the ball bounced in off a defensive stick to take the score to 5-0.
However, Winchester were still showing intent and when Hibberd stole the ball off a defender, his pass found Micah Smithard who set up Jeffrey to roll under the keeper. The game finished with Winchester on the front foot, the OC's keeper having to make a penalty corner save from Hibberd.
* Trojans lost 4-2 at bottom Premier Division 2 club Purley Walcountians, where Colin French and Ben Frost were on target.
Welcome to Vimps at the Hockey
Powered by Cricket-Hockey.com, the hockey equipment specialists in Downton, Salisbury