Kilmarnock: Have they regressed under Alex Dyer?
"We're not good enough at the moment." That was Kilmarnock manager Alex Dyer's plain assessment after defeat by St Johnstone stretched his side's miserable winless run to nine league games.
Dyer - assistant to both Steve Clarke and Angelo Alessio - has had precisely zero impact on results since taking the reins after the latter's sacking on 17 December.
Just a year ago, Kilmarnock had just beaten Rangers and drawn with Aberdeen on their way to a third-place finish and a record points haul. Now, relegation must be a concern.
So how bad is it for Dyer?
'It's not a quick fix'
The numbers do not make good reading for the current Kilmarnock boss. Nine league games without a win, stretching back to 23 November (when they beat bottom club Hearts 3-0). Seven straight losses. Just four goals scored in their winless run, conceding 14.
The only positive for Dyer is the fact he has only been in charge for the most recent five games, although he was assistant before that, and they are still nine points clear of bottom spot and five clear of the relegation play-off position.
That safety net means it is not yet time to panic, but speaking after the 2-1 loss to St Johnstone, Dyer admitted he was worried by their recent form.
"I'm concerned because I'm in charge and I want to win games," he told BBC Scotland. "A lot of damage has been done over the season and the boys have to dig themselves out of it. There's signs of it turning, but we're just not there yet. It's not a quick fix."
Are Killie worse under Dyer?
The much maligned Alessio was dismissed after 22 games in charge with the club fifth in the top flight, having won one game in eight matches and four without victory.
The Italian, former assistant to Inter Milan manager Antonio Conte while at Chelsea and Juventus, lost his first two league matches but then picked up a draw and two victories to finish his first five Premiership matches in charge with seven points.
By measure of points and goals, Alessio's start was far better than Dyer's, but the numbers do not tell the whole story and five games is a short sample time.
For example, there was a degree of discontent behind the scenes during Alessio's short tenure and there was a lingering question of how much credit for a decent run was due to the manager, or the players who had achieved so much under Clarke.
Plus, the ignominy of the Europa League qualifying exit to Welsh part-timers Connah's Quay never left Alessio, while Dyer did at least record a 6-0 Scottish Cup fourth-round win over League Two side Queen's Park.
There is the key point too that Dyer has faced the league's three best teams in his five matches, currently Celtic, Rangers, and Motherwell. Kilmarnock's toil to score goals is also a season-long issue, so the blurring of the lines between the regimes is hard to unpick.
The next two games look crucial for Kilmarnock. First up, they are at home to a Ross County side without a win in five league games, then they face a trip to Tynecastle to face the league's bottom side, Hearts.
A minimum of four points could be required in those two matches, because they then face the Old Firm either side of a home match against an improved Hibernian.
Further signings could help stop the rot and Dyer certainly feels things will improve with more time to work with the players.
"We have good players in that changing-room, but confidence is low because we've not won for ages," he said. "We have to dig in and not feel sorry for ourselves to turn it round.
"It's about working hard on the training pitch and trying to get one or two in."
'It's a concerning period for Kilmarnock' - analysis
Michael Stewart: Obviously it's down to the seven defeats in a row, which has only happened once in the last 20 years for Kilmarnock. It's a very concerning period for them and it's just hard work and grafting that is going to get them out of it. They have the basis of a good squad in defence and midfield. It's just getting those final touches at the top end that relieves a bit of pressure from the back-line. They don't score enough and that's a big concern.
Steven Thompson: Did they play that badly on Saturday? Probably not, but they can't seem to win. I think they're just not getting the rub of the green either. Mind you, they got a penalty that should not have been a penalty kick in the first place. When you're on this type of run things don't go for you, confidence is low, you start to look for people to blame, things to blame - they just need a win and they need one quick.