THE Western Sydney Wanderers head into this Saturday night's derby with Sydney FC with an unaccustomed form slump and two defeats in a row.
After their 2-0 loss to the Newcastle Jets on Sunday night and the mid-week Asian Champions League 3-1 capitulation to Ulsan Hyundai, coach Tony Popovic will be desperate to stop the rot so close to the finals of the A-League.
"From start to finish we were very flat and it was uncharacteristic from us," Popovic said after the Jets loss.
"I don't know [if the mid-week game played a part] as we never saw anything in the past few days at training but maybe there was something to look at.
"It's a new experience for us in the [Asian Champions League] but even the players who didn't play [that] looked flat.
"You hope they pick it up as the game goes on but it didn't happen."
Whatever it is that's ailing the Wanderers, the coach will need to identify it sooner rather than later, because the challenges ahead will get even bigger.
There are still six rounds of the A-League to go, but there's more Asian Champions League fixtures in the mix during the next 30-40 days.
Last Wednesday it looked like the occasion got the better of the Wanderers, who scored in the first minute but still got run over by the visitors.
On Sunday, once again at Pirtek Stadium, it was a different kettle of fish altogether: the Wanderers did lack spark or were flat, as the coach admitted afterwards, but they were also up against a team that was desperate for competition points to keep their season alive.
The Jets were energetic, chasing every ball, while the home side were mostly lethargic and the signs were there after the first 15 minutes that it was going to be a long day for the coach and the 12,000 fans at the ground.
This Saturday night the Wanderers go to Allianz Stadium and a clash with Sydney FC, a team not noted for its consistency.