Tottenham captain Ledley King has warned his team-mates that they cannot afford to keep repeating the kind of abject defensive display that has seen them concede eight goals in their last two matches.
Spurs have kept pace with both Manchester teams for the majority of the season but they now find themselves 13 points off the Barclays Premier League summit after following up their 5-2 mauling at Arsenal with a 3-1 defeat at home to Manchester United yesterday.
The Londoners are now resigned to scrapping for a third-place finish with the Gunners and Chelsea, who trail them by four and seven points respectively.
Harry Redknapp's men dominated for large parts of yesterday's match but lost thanks to a header from Wayne Rooney, who headed home unmarked in the first half, and two goals from Ashley Young - both of which came as a result of shoddy defending.
An early season wobble aside, Tottenham have been excellent at the back this term, with King performing well alongside the outstanding Younes Kaboul.
The 31-year-old does admit that the squad's defensive displays against Arsenal and United have not been up to scratch, however.
"You're not going to beat teams like United if you're not concentrating and it was a bit of a lesson," he said.
"You can't fault the work rate and we gave a good account of ourselves for the majority of the game but if you fall asleep at vital moments, you get punished.
"To allow them a free header in the six-yard box on the brink of half-time was disappointing. It shouldn't be happening.
"We lifted ourselves but we went to sleep on a throw-in for the second goal."
Spurs face a tough trip to Everton next weekend before their crucial game at Chelsea and they also have to overcome Stevenage in their FA Cup fifth-round replay at White Hart Lane on Wednesday.
King, whose chronic knee problems mean he will sit out the Stevenage game, has called on the squad to bounce back from their recent dip, although he knows that achieving Champions League qualification will be difficult.
"There's tough games all the time because there are teams in the league now that are fighting for the league, fighting for European qualification, and fighting against relegation," he added.
"It will be a dogfight until the end. Every team wants to pick up points and we're the same. We want to try to finish the season on a positive note.
"We've got a chance to get through to the next round of the FA Cup this week.
"We have to pick ourselves up during this week, be ready for that and keep going."
One of the positives to come out of yesterday's defeat was the performance of Jake Livermore.
The midfielder, playing due to Scott Parker's suspension, dictated play well in the middle of the park in what was just his fifth league start.
The 23-year-old was disappointed with the result but delighted to play against one of his childhood heroes Paul Scholes.
"He's one of those players that you look up to when you're a kid," Livermore said.
"It's brilliant to play against those sort of players and test yourself. If we had won I would have asked for his shirt."