St Johnstone must stick together, get back to basics and not press the panic button.
That was the message from experienced midfielder Liam Craig after the Perth club dropped to 10th following a disappointing night in Dundee.
Saints were uncharacteristically outfought in a 1-0 midweek defeat thanks to Danny Mullen’s winner and sit just three points from the bottom.
And now basement boys Ross County arrive at McDiarmid Park tomorrow afternoon looking to apply the pressure.
Craig was a second-half sub on Wednesday and said: “Not doing the basics right - not tackling, not heading, not running, not pressing, that’s the worst that can be labelled at you.
“We don’t want to become that team who people think it’s easy to play against.
“We have been in positions before. Last season I think we won four from the first 20 league games. It was panic stations then in some quarters.
“It’s not at that stage yet but the more performances we produce like that then teams will label us like that.
“We haven’t been good enough for a while. We’ve had results but we still haven’t played that well.
“We need to be better in front of goal and we need to do the basics better.
“We need to stick together and realise quickly that we need to start winning games.”
Craig expects the battle for points will be intense all season.
“It’s going to be a long season because even with a few wins, you won’t be taken away from it now,” he said.
“Unless you go and win seven, eight, nine games you are going to be there or thereabouts. I don’t think anyone will be cut adrift, so we have to be up for the fight.
“Ross County are picking up points, Dundee are picking up points, Livi too, St Mirren, whoever.
“Last Saturday we could have gone into the top six but we have lost the two games and now it’s a dogfight.
“We have to realise that’s what we’re in for the time being.
“To get ourselves out of it we have to do the basics better, it’s as simple as that.
“We are not creating enough, we are not working the opposition goalkeeper or their defences enough.
“And when that happens it puts a lot of pressure on the team defensively.
“I am not aiming at the strikers, it’s the whole team who are responsible for it.”
Craig continued: “Last season we were scoring from all over the park but we’re not doing that at all this year.
“Last season, even at the start when we were not picking up points, everyone could see what we were trying to do.
“We need to get back to playing in the opposition half with a tempo.
“If we get back to doing the basics, there’s enough quality to win games.
“We need to stick together and put performances in on the park - that comes down to working hard.”
Craig needs no reminding how big this weekend’s game against the Staggies is.
Saints have previously had a knack of piecing together a run of form during a season and now would be the perfect time. Plenty of points are up for grabs before the January break.
Craig, the club’s all-time record appearance holder, said: “All the games are huge, Hibs was huge and Dundee was huge. This weekend is huge as well.
“There are a lot of games to play in December so it’s up to us to step up as a team and get results.
“You take confidence from turning it round in the past, but you have to start winning games.”