Alex McLeish was "let down" by his players in the Euro 2020 qualification defeat in Kazakhstan, former Scotland midfielder Charlie Adam says.
The national team's opening 3-0 loss to the side ranked 117 in the world has piled pressure on head coach McLeish.
But ex-Rangers player Adam was shocked by the lack of leadership on the pitch.
"They capitulated too easily," Adam told BBC Radio 5 Live. "It's an inexperienced group and I didn't see anyone pulling each other together."
He added: "You lose two goals quickly and need to regroup. You need to have leaders."
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Qualification already looks beyond the Scots after such a poor start, but Adam says McLeish should be given time to try to salvage the campaign.
Scotland are only off the bottom on goal difference after Cyprus thumped San Marino 5-0, while favourites Belgium beat Russia 3-1 at home.
The Scots had previously secured a place in the play-offs for Euro 2020, which they will part host, by winning their Nations League section.
"I don't think it's a sacking offence for McLeish," Adam said. "He did his job by getting Scotland to the Nations League play-off.
"There's a reason these type of nights happen and it was down to players not imposing themselves on the opposition.
"I like Alex as a manager and person and the players let him down. They need to have a look at themselves."
The Scots face San Marino away on Sunday and Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney is unlikely to be fit to return from a hip injury.
The absence of Tierney and Andy Robertson forced McLeish to use Aberdeen midfielder Graeme Shinnie at left-back in Kazakhstan and he was badly exposed in a makeshift defence.
"There's got be an overhaul of the quality of player in the squad," Adam said. "There has to be better players out there than some of these guys.
"International level is a step up and you saw the two defenders [Shinnie and Aberdeen team-mate Scott McKenna]. They play in the same team but made basic mistakes and were punished."
Players should be desperate to represent Scotland - Fletcher
Former Scotland captain Darren Fletcher has questioned the commitment of the players who withdrew from the squad because of the Astana Arena's plastic pitch.
McLeish's options were weakened by several call-offs, including Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser and Cardiff City attacker Callum Paterson, who were both excused from duty on the artificial surface.
"I don't completely buy into that," Fletcher told BBC Radio 5 Live. "Maybe if you were being asked to play on it every week, but that was a one-off game for your country and I'd like to have seen these players make themselves available.
"It's probably clubs getting involved. There is a lot of money involved in players getting injured.
"But players should be desperate to represent their country. We need to qualify and we need our best players on the pitch at all times."
'McLeish deserves chance to qualify' - analysis
Former Scotland defender Willie Miller on Sportsound
I don't think Alex McLeish can look for excuses. The manager's job is to get the players he picks to perform and they didn't perform.
Ultimately, the responsibility lies with him. But I don't see a mountain of evidence that Alex is not capable of taking us forward - it's more of a molehill.
He deserves the opportunity to qualify next March by beating Finland and another team of that ilk in the Nations League play-off. He got us there. It's not fair to call for the manager's head after one game.
Former Scotland winger Neil McCann on Sportsound
Right away, I was drawn to Alex's choices in midfield. You need structure, a lynchpin, someone who's going to conduct play, and I felt that in that midfield three there was no natural anchor. All three players are similar, good at breaking forward.
Scott McTominay could have played, or Graeme Shinnie could have been that man. Questions will be asked about certain players and you have to look at the boys who refused to play on the artificial surface.
#ecksit - what the fans said
Hashagdo: Ecksit means Ecksit
Andy Slav: Can we start an online petition for #ecksit?
Gav Milne: Think the whole of Scotland would vote leave for this.
Clarky: Make it stop Scottish FA. Please, make it stop.
Hells Warrrior: It's not even embarrassing when it's expected.