Sale head coach Bryan Redpath admitted his team lacked the firepower to compete with the top clubs in Europe after Montpellier fly-half Francois Trinh Duc dismantled his side in a stunning second-half burst.
The France international scored his side's opener on 51 minutes before two clever kicks set up another two tries to send the French side on their way to a 33-18 win. Until then the Sharks had remained in the contest with Mark Cueto scoring the only try of the first half as they went into the break 12-8 behind.
Redpath was nonetheless pleased with his side's performance against one of the Top 14's pacesetters. "We played a decent game and the young boys that came here have done exceptionally well in a tough environment," said Redpath. "We just didn't have enough firepower to compete."
The Sharks have endured a nightmare start to the campaign, going winless after six rounds of the Aviva Premiership, with only their opening 34-33 Heineken Cup win over Cardiff Blues last weekend giving them cause for cheer.
Redpath added: "There haven't been that many English teams winning against the top four or five teams in France and Montpellier have been in that group in the last two years.
"Winning here is a difficult challenge and winning matches in Europe is hard. We did that last weekend against the Blues and we've come here and given a reasonable account of ourselves.
"It got a bit messy and sloppy for us, and we must give credit to Francois Trinh Duc. He set up two great tries with chip kicks and finished one himself. We could have crumbled at 12-8 but didn't. We fought back, we had opportunities, but they got a couple of lucky bounces."
Despite the defeat the Sharks remain firmly in contention in Pool Six with Montpellier drawing level with them behind leaders Toulon. Redpath's side will now face Toulon in back-to-back games before Christmas in what will likely determine their fate.
"I'm not thinking about qualification," he said. "We got a win last weekend, but now we're looking more at performances, not necessarily long-term plans, but for where we're going to be in Europe.
"This competition is for the very big clubs and it's hard to compete with them at the moment. The Premiership will be and always has been our main focus. We're going to take a lot from the game today. We have to learn from this and try to solve our problems during the weeks to come.
- Bryan Redpath