Frank Lampard says Saturday's 4-0 loss at Aston Villa was a harsh reality check for his Derby County side.
Four first-half goals sent the Rams to defeat and for the third game in a row, Lampard's men failed to score.
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That left him concerned about the run of form and lack of attacking quality being shown.
He said: "It was a tough day. We were poor and they were good but we allowed them to be that.
"Credit to them for playing so well but that was a harsh reality check for us today.
"There's been a negative feel around the club for a little while and almost an expectation that a dip is inevitable but I don't buy into that. All teams have bad times but we came here today basically without our entire first choice midfield and Harry Wilson had been ill in the week so couldn't start.
"So we have our reasons but I don't like excuses and the team have to do better from the start.
"Our lack of goals and even chances is of course a concern but overall it's all down to confidence and form and both are not good at the moment."
Lampard now prepares his team for four home games in a row, starting with two over the next week against Wigan Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday.
He said: "My hands might be tied as to what changes I can or will make but we'll have to see. The players were made aware in no uncertain terms how unhappy I was at half-time but we are still only three points behind the play-off zone and have to remain positive.
"We need to move forward together and need the fans behind us as their support is so important. We apologise to them for the display today but have to learn the lessons from it."