Hull City are hoping tonight's Carling Cup tie against Everton can lift the gloom surrounding their slide into the bottom three of the Premier League.
Saturday's demoralising defeat by Birmingham has left the Tigers 19th in the table with only four points from six games.
The club's poor league run now stretches to just two wins from their last 28 matches and supporters are beginning to voice their disquiet with the team and manager Phil Brown. With a daunting trip to Liverpool at the weekend, Brown has emphasised the importance of a good midweek performance against Everton.
Brown is expected to make a number of changes for the game at the KC Stadium but believes progress to the fourth round could provide a timely confidence boost.
"You want Saturday out of your system because we just didn't perform," said Brown's assistant Brian Horton.
"It was a crucial match and in games like that you have got to have seven or eight performing. We probably had two or three.
"We only dropped in the bottom three once last year and now we are in it. It might give us all a kick up the backside. We've now got to play Everton at home and they [players] should be relishing it. If you can't raise your game for that, you shouldn't be here."
The euphoria of Hull's promotion in 2008 and their flying start to their first top-flight season has long since dissipated. Reality has now set in and, with some supporters expecting little more than a relegation battle this season, pressure on Brown is starting to grow.
Horton is confident the situation can be turned around. "We're all under pressure at the top level," he said. "If you don't want pressure, don't be in it. If you want to be a manager or a coach at the top level, stay in it and prove people wrong. Who motivates the motivator? We all need motivating sometimes but winning games motivates you. It is all about winning games."
George Boateng could return to the starting line-up for the first time since the 5-1 thrashing by Tottenham in August. Defender Anthony Gardner, who has been out for a month with a knee injury, again looks unlikely to feature while Ibrahima Sonko is cup-tied.
Tom Cairney, who scored in the second-round win over Southend, is in contention along with fellow youngsters Liam Cooper, Nicky Featherstone and Will Atkinson.
Horton hopes they can put on a good performance for any disgruntled fans. "You have to give them something, they pay the money," he said. "They have got a right to have a little moan but they weren't booing players. They booed the performance and maybe they booed us but we've got to accept that, we're big boys."Reuse content