St Johnstone manager Steven MacLean told his players to start looking over their shoulders as he claimed a 2-0 defeat at Ross County left them in a “dogfight” already.
Saints have followed their Viaplay Cup exit with successive defeats in their opening two cinch Premiership matches.
Goals from substitute Kyle Turner and defender Connor Randall either side of half-time put County in control, but the host could have been out of sight at that point.
Despite facing a lengthy injury list, MacLean pulled no punches in his post-match assessment in Dingwall.
“It was poor – individually, two players got pass marks. We didn’t show enough desire or commitment, didn’t win first contact or second balls. They out-battled and out-fought us,” he said.
“We need to get players in and we need to get players back from injury. We are in a dogfight already and they know that. We need help.
“The players who were out there haven’t done themselves any favours and they need to look over their shoulder. I include myself in that – we are all in this together.”
MacLean added: “Do you know what, we have been sitting here for two years. Some of those boys have let the club down. Either that, or they are not good enough. Simple as that.
“They need to start taking some responsibility. They have been protected long enough – (it is) not good enough.
“They will need to look over their shoulders. You have got to show a hunger and desire to do your job and do the fundamentals.”
County manager Malky Mackay was frustrated his side were not further ahead at the interval.
“I was probably a little bit disappointed at half-time that it wasn’t put to bed,” he said.
“We had some great opportunities in the first half. On any given day, we might have been 4-0 up and the game is dead. It wasn’t.
“Kyle Turner scored a good goal, but at 1-0 we realised Steven would be getting torn into St Johnstone and that they would come out flying.
“In those situations, the opposition can be a bit carefree and play passes they wouldn’t normally play because they have to get back into it. For 15 minutes, we settled it down and made sure we defended properly.”