The case for the defence has become a preoccupation at Ross County.
Unfortunately, the evidence on display at Fir Park would not have convinced even the most lenient jury.
The Staggies combatively matched a Motherwell side playing their first game in four weeks – until Tony Watt’s goal eight minutes before the break.
And County’s defensive deficiencies were ruthlessly exposed in a dispiriting second period in which Well struck a further three times.
Mark O’Hara converted from the spot after Alex Iacovitti lunged to bring down Watt, with substitute Callum Lang and Devante Cole netting to round off an emphatic victory for the Steelmen.
Leading scorer Ross Stewart was denied by two goal-line clearances and failed to convert with just Well substitute goalkeeper Aaron Chapman to beat as the Staggies pressed after going 2-0 down.
Nevertheless, it was the way County capitulated which caused alarm for manager Stuart Kettlewell.
He said: “I said to the players that I feel like I forever fight it, in terms of being asked questions about our fragilities defensively, conceding goals, being behind in games and looking a wee bit soft. I can’t defend it when I saw how loose we were in the second half.
“Even when Motherwell scored their second goal it was a point for us to regroup, consolidate and see if we can find a route back into the game – it is always our message.
“I think you could see by some of the opportunities that were gifted and some of the slack play that there is that mental aspect of it.
“I suppose we did become a little bit soft, especially in the second half.
“Big Alex (Iacovitti) going to ground inside the box for the penalty, it then starts to make it a mountain to climb.
“We had two or three opportunities right after that to bring ourselves back into the game, we didn’t take them and then we were punished.”
The County manager did not dispute Well’s penalty and had no complaints when Stewart appeared to be impeded by Mark O’Hara when clean through on goal.
The overbearing artificial crowd noise provided a surreal backdrop in a fiercely contested opening half. Well goalkeeper Carson was forced off after a rather innocuous collision with Charles-Cook as both Charlie Lakin and Harry Paton imposed themselves in midfield with some robust challenges. There was nothing to suggest Well would strike first, yet ex-Caley Thistle player Liam Polworth found Nathan McGinley in plenty of space on the left and from his deep cross Watt darted in front of Iacovitti to stab home.
Scotland defender Declan Gallagher was impressive throughout and cleared off his own goal-line when Charles-Cook looked set to equalise before half-time.
The momentum switched as Well’s pace and directness proved profitable; Watt bursting into the penalty area and falling theatrically under Iacovitti’s attempted sliding tackle. Referee Craig Napier quickly pointed to the spot and O’Hara dispatched the penalty efficiently on 54 minutes.
County countered with Stewart’s goal bound header diverted over by Watt.
Well were handed a third when unmarked substitute Lang had the easy task of converting from two yards as Gallagher nodded on Polworth’s accurate corner after 64 minutes.
A deflated County succumbed to a route one fourth eight minutes later, Chapman’s long punt found Watt and from his touch Cole surged past Coll Donaldson and fired beyond Doohan.