As Ross County near the end of their opening round of Premiership fixtures the ongoing search for a first victory is becoming a genuine source of concern for Staggies fans.
The upcoming week offers County a big opportunity to instigate a revival, however, and they can ill-afford not to capitalise.
County are now on their own at the foot of the table, and carry the unwanted burden of being the only side still to get off the mark after Dundee recorded their first win against Aberdeen.
The Dark Blues’ triumph opened up a three-point gap above the Dingwall side, while Livingston are a point further ahead following an impressive 3-0 triumph over St Johnstone.
With Livi and Dundee the next two opponents for Malky Mackay’s men, those results only serve to make the next seven days all the more important.
There can be no disputing the fact County faced a difficult run of fixtures in the opening weeks of the campaign. As as we reach the point at which all teams have played each other once though, it is vitally important the Staggies are not still searching for their first triumph by the time they leave Dens Park next Wednesday.
Before that comes around, County host Livi on Saturday, aiming to avert a run of three straight defeats against Motherwell, Dundee United and St Mirren.
Through the Staggies’ own strong performances in those games, all three teams have shown an ability to grind out results in the face of attacking pressure. When the threat has been coming County’s way, all too often they have shown a slackness which has proven decisive in the outcome.
That underlines County’s need to be resolute in their next two games, particularly when the heat is on against sides with similar targets of moving out of the danger zone.
Staggies still have time to turn it around
When form among the bottom three has been so difficult to come by, the margins could be extremely fine come the end of the campaign.
Prior to Saturday, the only victory mustered by any of them was by Livi, albeit an impressive one against Celtic. That indicates the head-to-head encounters could be hugely significant in determining the fate of the trio.
Of course, it is still early enough in the season for County, Livi or Dundee to push on further up the table.
Mackay made clear his attempts to extensively rebuild his squad with a haul of 12 summer signings, however, those plans were set back by a summer Covid outbreak at Victoria Park.
Should County’s form improve, they will look back on the slow start to the campaign as being a necessary gelling process, particularly against the backdrop of their heavily disrupted pre-season.
It is hard to escape the feeling that in County’s case, it will only become harder to do that if the wait for league triumph goes on any longer given the risk of becoming detached from their closest challengers.
Should they close out the opening set of fixtures with two positive results, they will approach round two with a renewed vigour, and ready to face a number of teams they feel they have a score to settle with.
It increasingly feels like a defining week in the Staggies’ season.