Marcus Fraser admits Saturday’s merciless thumping by Livingston must be a wake-up call for Ross County.
But the Staggies captain insists there is no need for panic after the first Premiership setback of the season.
The Dingwall hosts were torn apart in the first 26 minutes with the sharp, energetic and ravenously hungry Lions in ruthless mood.
Three goals in that spell from John Guthrie, Steven Lawless and then Lyndon Dykes left the Highlanders with a mountain to climb.
Ross Stewart’s late first-half reply stoked fightback hopes, but the match was all but snuffed out as a contest after 52 minutes when on-loan Sheffield Wednesday winger Jack Stobbs rocketed in a brilliant volley.
Fraser, who has seen plenty of highs and lows with County over the past few seasons, struck an honest but measured tone in his assessment of the team’s failings.
There was criticism aplenty from the captain, but also a refusal to panic.
Fraser admitted: “We didn’t start anywhere near well enough and the only spell in the game we had was maybe the first 10 minutes of the second half.
“We then we gave away a cheap goal.
“We only have ourselves to blame and we’ll look at ourselves as players. The management said that as well. But we don’t put the blame on anyone else – we start with ourselves first.
“We had a wee chat and maybe that’s the wake-up call we need in the Premiership. The last year or so has been all positives. Now people will give us criticism and we need to stand up and take it on the chin.”
Fraser knows life in the top flight is not about to get much easier for County in coming weeks, with a trip to Pittodrie next on their list.
He said: “It’s going to be a tough test next up at Aberdeen but I’m sure we’ll dust ourselves down and be ready when it comes.
“It’s not a time to panic. We need to look at all the good work of the last year. We get on well together as a group and today was just out of character, I would say.
“We weren’t first to first ball or first to the second ball, just kind of out there, and fair play to Livingston, they deserved it.
“In the last year or so, we’ve only been beaten once here so that shows teams don’t get it easy in Dingwall.
“That makes it all the harder to take that Livingston came here and took four goals off us.
“But we just need to take it on chin and look at ourselves individually and collectively as a team, knowing there’s a lot of work to do.”