Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick admits the club's next match could be his last chance to fire the club's faltering A-League campaign.
The Nix are yet to register a point in four games and were downright embarrassing in patches during Monday night's 6-1 defeat to Melbourne Victory.
Merrick's side were competitive, even at 2-0 and a man down, and did find a first goal of the season from the penalty spot after five-and-a-half-hours of searching.
But from 2-1, the New Zealanders gave out and let in four goals in 20 minutes, limping to one of the biggest routs in their history.
In isolation, the result can be washed away as one bad night.
In the context of a tricky opening month, the signs aren't great for the Kiwis.
Merrick has bemoaned the impact of international fixtures and senior players heading off for All Whites duties.
And his big problem is upcoming World Cup qualifiers against New Caledonia this month will again rock their campaign.
According to Merrick, the Nix will be without six players for their round six away trip to Central Coast and will have to rush them back into the side on a short break and international travel to play Victory in round seven.
It makes this Saturday's home date with Newcastle Jets one hell of a fixture.
"You've got to win games and we've really got to win games next week. We've got to start next week," Merrick said.
"In November we've been told six players will be out of the squad for the qualifiers.
"I came into the job knowing that could be the case (but) I didn't think I'd lose so many first-team players."
Merrick said he "couldn't take anything" out of the Etihad Stadium match but did defend his team for attempting to play to their gameplan even as Victory dominated the contest.
"We should have been playing better. We should have kicked on from where we left off against Sydney," he said.
"I think we started off very nervously and it took a while really before we played any fluent possession play at all.
"We were a little bit intimidated ... I didn't think we started to play until we conceded two penalties."