A win would have seen Ireland promoted to third place but the attempt if Declan Kidney's team to storm the top table of rugby with a first away win over France in Paris since 2000 ended in a comprehensive 30-10 loss.
France have now beaten Ireland six times in a row at home and have moved up to fourth, their highest placing in two years.
Ireland are now just ahead of sixth ranked team England and a defeat in Twickenham in their next RBS 6 Nations outing would see them drop to sixth, putting a distinct 'big five' caste to the World Rankings.
The French Revolution under Marc Lièvremont has taken a while to gather pace and attract popular support but this masterly dismissal of Ireland, who arrived in Paris unbeaten in their last 12 Tests, was a triumph to excite the masses and send them into a perishing Parisien night with a warm glow.
Ireland coach Declan Kidney and captain Brian O'Driscoll spoke about a "reality check" afterwards but Gordon D'Arcy did not mince his words. "It was an arse-kicking,"
Ironically Ireland, with one win in 38 years in Paris, started superbly, stole a few line-outs and bossed a terrific opening quarter which saw northern hemisphere rugby at its best. But for an unkind bounce of the ball D'Arcy would have touched down for the try of the season under the posts. Instead, the momentum was lost the instant Flannery savaged Pelisson and in no time Ireland found themselves 17-3 down at half-time, William Servat and Jauzion crossing for tries.
There is no disgrace in losing away to France when they are in the mood and you cannot dismiss their unbeaten record going into this contest, but Ireland's visit to England does now suddenly become a pivotal encounter.
Ireland can still salvage a Triple Crown and possibly the Championship, but lose at Twickenham and they are suddenly looking at a distinctly average defence of their title, which would be disappointing from a side bristling with talent. "There will be some very tough honesty sessions in the next fortnight," D'Arcy said.
As for France you can scarcely wait for their forthcoming Friday night encounter against Wales at the Millennium Stadium.
After that extraordinary finish against Scotland, the Welsh – a confidence team more than almost any other – will be buzzing again, while France look capable of playing the game every which way. A classic looms and with a gap of a week we have, for once, even got time to savour the prospect.
Ireland V Scotland Hospitality
Six Nations Hospitality