Manager Brian McDermott is this week trying to work out why the wheels have suddenly come off Leeds United’s season.
Going into the festive period in the play-off places in the Sky Bet Championship, they failed to win any of their four games to drop down to eighth place then compounded this by crashing out of the FA Cup at the third round stage to lower league Rochdale last Saturday.
After United had enjoyed being the cup giantkillers in recent seasons the boot was on the other foot this time and while cup shocks are nothing new to United it hurt that they were outplayed at times by their League Two opponents.
McDermott’s attacking back three system has clearly been rumbled and it could be a case of going back to the drawing board before returning to league action this Saturday away to Sheffield Wednesday.
The Yorkshire derby has now taken on extra prominence with Leeds desperate to get their season back on track. Another defeat would certainly set the alarm bells ringing, especially with some tough games just round the corner against Leicester City, Huddersfield Town and Ipswich.
Changes seem inevitable with young homegrown players Tom Lees and Alex Mowatt the most likely to come back in after missing the trip to Spotland through nagging injuries.
McDermott is also hoping to have at least one new player to select with the January transfer window now open.
Leeds have been linked with several players, but are closest to signing Hull City winger Cameron Stewart, who is likely to sign on an emergency loan tomorrow.
McDermott, meanwhile, wants the cup experience to drive his team on for the rest of the season.
He said: “That’s probably the worst moment I’ve had in football, or right up there. I lost a play-off final and it didn’t feel like that, at the end when we went to our supporters.
“The reaction we got I expected. I knew it was coming and we hold our hands up. It’s going to be a driver for me in the next few weeks.
“What can I say apart from apologise for that performance? There’s no-one here who wants to get it right more than me.
“The players are hurting. They don’t want performances or results like that.”