Alex Neil, the Preston North End manager, has admitted his team travel to Sheffield United low on confidence, results and stuck in a rut.
But rather than place a consoling arm around his players' shoulders, the Scot is demanding they buck up their own ideas instead.
"At the end of the day we’re in top-level sport," he said. "You need to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in or it’s just going to pass you by.
"We need to get ourselves out of the rut we’re in at the moment. Working hard is the key."
Although Tuesday's defeat at leaders Leeds was probably to be expected given their respective positions in the table, it did reveal some issues 23rd-placed Preston must address before this weekend's visit to Bramall Lane.
Several unconvincing performances from goalkeeper Declan Rudd have prompted calls for Chris Maxwell to be selected instead while Alan Browne, Neil's influential midfielder, admitted his squad is in unchartered territory after failing to win any of its last seven league games.
"We haven't really had any runs like this," he said. "It's difficult and we aren't used to it. We aren't giving the fans their money's worth."
Despite their opponents' disappointing form, United manager Chris Wilder knows his own side has no reason for complacency after taking a point from its last two outings. Indeed, he reminded them following Wednesday's draw with Birmingham City that Preston ended their play-off hopes last season and possess the talent to turn things around.
United's preparations have also been complicated by the fact Neil's men faced Leeds 24 hours earlier.
"Even if a result doesn't go your way, you can still have a good performance," Browne added. "Performances and results haven't happened for us so it's about time we changed that."