If being sixth in the table and two points off the automatic promotion places constitutes a crisis then sheffield united will gladly spend the rest of the season in turmoil.
Nevertheless, having seen leaders charlton athletic condemn them to a third defeat in four games, danny wilson and his players are being forced to confront some uncomfortable truths about their league one credentials.
As chris powell, the victorious manager admitted afterwards, small details make a big difference in any fixture between two of the division’s fancied teams.
But united will not have to spend long searching for the reasons behind their demise when the inquest begins into a disappointing saturday afternoon at bramall lane.
Wilson, not for the first time of late, was left rueing missed opportunities and individual errors at the back after watching substitute yann kermorgant score with his first touch of the game and bradley wright-phillips ensure charlton’s unbeaten start to the competition continued courtesy of another ruthless finish.
Michael doyle, the united captain, also conceded another profligate performance in front of goal had contributed to his colleagues’ undoing before urging them to rediscover the mean streak which served them so well at the start of the season.
“We probably need to go back to basics a little bit,” doyle said. “We’ve lost our way a little bit of late and we’ve got to get back into the habit of grinding results out.
“You don’t go up in october so there’s no reason to panic but of course there are areas where we can do better.
“Everyone has a bad patch at some time or other and we’re having a bit of a tricky run now.
“But there’s a long way to go yet and the fact that we can talk about making improvements while we’re still sitting in a pretty good position should be an encouragement.”
Having won five of their opening six matches, united’s short-comings have now been exposed in quick succession by both huddersfield town and their latest opponents from the valley.
Creativity is not an issue with neill collins having a header hacked-off the line, richard cresswell drawing an astonishing save from ben hamer soon after entering the fray and ched evans striking a post during the closing stages.
But, as wilson later acknowledged, united failed to establish a foothold when in control of the contest while their lack of pace, particularly in forward areas, also became apparent as wright-phillips launched a series of incisive counter-attacks.
“It’s very disappointing because we had a good first half and were pushing for a goal only to get hit with a sucker punch,” said doyle.
“I always felt we were capable of carving out openings even when we went one down but then we just lost our discipline a bit.
“What we need to do is make sure that, even if we are missing chances, we take something away with us.”
United, who were also beaten by wycombe wanderers last weekend, appeared set to do exactly that when, with evans tormenting the visitors’ defence, they seized control of the early exchanges.
“I warned my lads that they’d come out all guns blazing,” powell said. “That they’d throw everything at us and they did.”
But having seen kermorgant convert dale stephens’ corner only seconds after coming on, united fell two behind moments later when collins, whose perfectly executed tackle had earlier foiled wright-phillips, dithered in possession and allowed charlton’s danger man to score his seventh of the campaign at the second attempt.
“It was one of those things,” doyle, who also went close from range, said.
“Charlton are good as you would expect and credit to them for that.
“But we want to get back on track as quickly as possible now and we are more than capable of doing that.”