Stevie May's first-half winner denied Hearts the chance to chip away the first small chunk of their 15-point penalty as they opened their Scottish Premiership campaign with a 1-0 defeat to St Johnstone.
The Edinburgh club start the season in negative figures and unable to sign new players following their administration crisis.
And the aftermath of the financial meltdown has stripped Gary Locke's squad of depth and quality and they were no match for a confident St Johnstone side still flying high from their Europa League adventures.
May, who has already opened his account for the season after netting against Norwegian league leaders Rosenborg 10 days ago, struck again after 26 minutes with a low curling effort to give the McDiarmid men their opening three points.
But the Jambos threatened rarely and the scale of the survival fight in front of them is now glaringly apparent.
While Hearts have been forced to battle for their very existence after they were plunged into administration with debts nearing £30million, Saints have gone from strength to strength.
Their unbeaten start to their European campaign has already taken care of the former Champions League quarter-finalists from Trondheim and put them on course for the play-off round as they lead FC Minsk 1-0 ahead of Thursday's second leg.
But the start of the new Premiership season offered the Gorgie men a chance to refocus on football matters and the visitors to Perth brought with them a 3,500-strong away support.
However, a turgid opening 15 minutes successfully quelled the buoyant pre-match atmosphere the Maroon hordes had created.
May headed wide after 19 minutes for the hosts while Callum Paterson was also off-target with a volley at the other end as the action gradually livened up.