Andrew Durante says there has been plenty of soul-searching within the Wellington Phoenix ranks after last weekend's 7-1 loss to Sydney.
The defeat at Allianz Stadium was the worst ever for Phoenix since joining the A-League in 2007 and Durante vowed the players would be far better against Newcastle Jets this Sunday.
"It's been quite a tough week. There's been a lot in the papers and rightly so. We weren't good enough," the skipper said.
"To be honest a lot of us were quite embarrassed about the result. Hopefully there is a good reaction this week and we prove to everyone that we are serious about this season and we do want to be in the playoffs.
"I think we've got a good enough culture and a good enough bunch of blokes to pull us out of it."
Despite admitting the mid-season switch to a more fluid, passing style of play had been ill-timed and had adversely affected the players, Durante said it was not going to be used as an excuse for the team's poor results.
Since the change was implemented in mid-December Phoenix have won just once in eight matches and have looked short on confidence.
"We've had long enough now to get to grips with it. I'm not going to use it as an excuse," Durante said.
"We've got enough senior pros in this team to be good enough to deal with whatever shape or formation the owners want. We've spoken as individuals that we have to be better.
"There have been individual mistakes and out of character mistakes from the players all over the park.
"I think it's harsh to blame everything on a structure. Players have to look at themselves.
"We want to be in the playoffs. I refuse to let this formation and everything be an excuse."
But Durante was also adamant that the current crop of players were capable of playing with the new structure and style even though midfielders like Manny Muscat, Vince Lia and Alex Smith are better known for their abrasive defending.
"I think the players in the midfield have copped a fair bit of stick. They are actually quite good ball players. They are known to be physical but if they are given the right instructions then they can definitely play this game," Durante said.
"Obviously they are not going to be as silky as a (Marcos) Flores and a (Marco) Rojas and I understand that. But they can definitely play the ball. I think we've shown in patches that we can play the ball on the ground and be good. It's just putting it all together and that's what we're building on at the moment."
Phoenix are bottom of the table but sit just five points outside the top six and have a good record against the Jets, who have not won in Wellington since 2007.
"We've had a good soul-searching week this week and I'm pretty confident this Sunday you'll see a revved up team," Durante said.
"We want to apologise to the fans and everyone that's supported the club. We let them down last week. It was embarrassing. It was embarrassing for us. I guess the only way to repay them is to put on a good performance on Sunday."
Durante also asked fans not to turn their backs on the club following disparaging comments from co-owner Gareth Morgan, who accused some fans of having a 'pathetic' attitude and of not knowing 'much about the game anyway'.
"The fans are great. We're not much of a club without fans," Durante said.
"Regardless of what Gareth has said, as players we want you guys out there. If we're going to get out of this we need everyone pulling in the same direction, fans included."