Murray lost to Ancic for the second time in a month
Andy Murray's preparations for the French Open received a blow at the Open Sabadell Atlantico as he was beaten 6-4 6-4 by Mario Ancic in the second round.
The Scot took a late wild card for the Barcelona event to hone his clay-court game ahead of next month's Grand Slam.
However, despite fighting back from 0-3 down in the first set, he went behind after throwing away his serve at 4-5.
And the second set followed a similar pattern, Murray wasting three break points before Ancic won 6-4 6-4.
It was Murray's second defeat in quick succession to Ancic, having lost to the Croat in Miami last month.
But it could have been a different story had the 20-year-old been more clinical, the British number one matching Ancic until the 10th game in each set - he lost the first from 40-0 up on his own serve and to love at 4-5 in the second.
All of that came after flashes of brilliance had helped him break back at 4-4 following Ancic's flying start. However, Murray insisted his expectations had been low as he simply looked to tune up for the forthcoming Masters Series events in Rome and Hamburg.
I was flat. I was going to be here practising anyway, so I had hoped to get a few matches
"I didn't get that fired up for the match," said the Scot, who is back in the top 20 but well below his former top-10 status.
"I was flat. I was going to be here practising anyway, so I had hoped to get a few matches.
"But my priority is to train for Rome and Hamburg. I wanted to continue from last week, but (playing here) is not the be-all and end-all.
"I've now got four or five days to get ready for Rome. It and Hamburg are the most important ones going into the French Open. All of the major players should be there, which was not the case last week."
In other matches, third seed David Nalbandian recovered from a shocking start to beat Argentine compatriot Agustin Calleri 1-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3.
And Guillermo Coria's struggle to regain top form after injury continued as he lost 5-7 6-4 6-4 to Russian Teimuraz Gabashvili.