David Perkins believes Wigan Athletic are already fighting a relegation battle first and foremost this season.
Hopes had been high at the start of the campaign that last year’s League One title winners could hit the ground running with momentum behind them.
But a disappointing sequence of only four wins from 19 games played has already seen a switch in seasonal goals.
When asked whether Latics were looking at a relegation battle between now and May, Perkins replied: “I think it is, it’s as simple as that.
“We’re looking to stay in the league, and then look to build next season and the season after.
“There’s some good young lads here, and if we can build on that and look to take it forward from there.”
Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat to Derby in many ways summed up the campaign to date.
Latics played plenty of good football, enjoying the lion’s share of possession in enemy territory, only to pay for their profligacy in front of goal with a lapse at the back that led to the Derby winner.
“The disappointing thing is conceding from a set-piece,” mused Perkins.
“A team of Derby’s quality, they’ll sit in all day and frustrate you all day, and then look to counter.
“We didn’t allow them to counter much, but another disappointing thing is not to be able to put one of our chances away.
“We got into some great positions, and the ball didn’t bounce our way in the area, where we would have liked.
“As daft as it sounds, I thought we kicked on after they scored, and in the second half, if we could have got one, I thought we could have gone on and won the game.
“We’re kind of saying the same things all season, and something needs to change really.”