Ross County defender Jason Naismith has warned the Staggies are in grave danger of being relegated from the Premiership unless they cut out their slackness.
County were defeated 3-1 by rivals Caley Thistle in Friday’s Highland derby, exiting the Scottish Cup at the hands of their Championship opponents.
The result leaves John Hughes’ men to solely focus on their battle for top-flight survival, with the Staggies lodged firmly in a relegation battle with five games remaining.
County are 10th in the table, but only a point ahead of Saturday’s opponents Kilmarnock, with bottom-placed Hamilton Accies a further point behind.
The Staggies will go into the post-split fixtures on the back of three straight defeats, and Naismith insists his side must show a drastic improvement in the coming weeks.
Naismith said: “There needs to be a realisation it’s not good enough. It’s as simple as that.
“We were terrible on Friday – I can’t remember Mark Ridgers making a save.
“The goals we gave away were just comical.
“We need to improve vastly to stay in the league.
“We need to have a long hard look at ourselves in the mirror and try to rectify it, and go from there.
“All three we goals we lost were under-17s stuff.
“We need to look at that this week and see how we can improve on that.
“If we give away goals like that, especially in the Premiership, we will get relegated.”
County had taken a first half lead against Inverness through Billy Mckay, but Neil McCann’s men went on to secure a deserved triumph courtesy of goals from Nikolay Todorov, Daniel MacKay and Shane Sutherland.
Although Naismith was hurt by the painful derby defeat, he says the Staggies must now channel their focus into creating a gap above Tommy Wright’s Killie with a valuable victory at Rugby Park.
Former St Mirren and Hibernian defender Naismith added: “We have got a massive game against Killie, who are a point below us in the league.
“If we go there and win it takes us four points above them. We just have to think like that, and try to keep positive.
“But it’s still raw after losing a derby the way we did. It was just so disappointing.
“It’s gut-wrenching. Credit to Inverness, they deserved to win. We just weren’t at the races, so good luck to them in the next round.”
Despite being at the wrong end of the table, County have shown their capabilities in victories over Celtic, Hibernian and Aberdeen in recent months.
Consistency has continued to elude the Staggies, however, having not recorded back-to-back league wins since the opening two weeks of the campaign.
That has been a huge source of frustration for Naismith, who returned to Dingwall for a second spell in December after leaving English League One outfit Peterborough United.
The 26-year-old added: “We can’t just turn up for the games against the big teams – it’s as simple as that.
“We need to turn up when it matters – and these games are when it matters most.
“The sooner we realise that the better.”