Southend's Michael Timlin has urged the team to stand up and be counted after a difficult start to the new season.
Following a 4-0 defeat at Peterborough in the Capital One Cup, the Shrimpers were beaten 1-0 at home by Accrington in their opening League Two fixture.
"We're up against it, we've got to make sure we come to the table now," the 27-year-old midfielder told BBC Essex.
"It's not about being boys out there, it's about being men and taking responsibility when things happen."
Southend reached the promotion play-offs last season
but lost 3-2 on aggregate to Crewe,
who went on to clinch a place in League One.
Despite that, Timlin believes other sides will regard Southend differently this season.
"We've got to put a huge demand on ourselves this year because last year we probably snuck in the back door when no-one expected us to be there.
"People are expecting us to be up there this year - everyone's written us up already, but we have to prove it," he said.
Southend dominated much of
the game against Accrington, only to succumb to a header from a set-piece.
"It was the same as last year. We got up for the so-called big games - it's the teams in and around the mid-table when we tend to struggle.
"It's going to be a different mentality this year. We've got to have more of a desire," Timlin added.
"I think that was probably lacking against Accrington - everyone was obviously tired but so were they, everyone was in the same boat and we've got to learn from it."