Gareth Barry remains optimistic that Aston Villa can remain in the hunt for a European position but, like all of his team-mates, he was baffled at the poor performance that contributed to the 3-1 defeat at home to Everton on Saturday.
Barry offered no excuses for a performance that David O'Leary, the Villa manager, described as " shocking" but expressed a determination to prove that it was a one-off.
Goals by Leon Osman (two) and Tim Cahill secured a victory for Everton, although an equaliser by Nolberto Solano at the start of the second half provided brief hope of a Villa resurgence.
Villa's season is now in danger of turning into an anticlimax as injuries, indifferent form and a lack of balance seem to be taking their toll. Barry, the Villa midfield player, is one of the few to have maintained his standards in recent matches.
But, while the Villa fans showed their feelings by jeering the players off the pitch, Barry says that there are still enough points available for the team to mount a serious challenge on the top six.
"We have ten matches remaining so there is always a chance that we might get our season back on track," Barry said.
"But there is no denying that this was a poor display by ourselves.
"A lot of it was because Everton played well, but we have to admit that we helped them by playing badly. It was a bit of both, to be honest.
"The fans had their say at the end and they are entitled to give their opinion.
"We have to make sure that we improve because we did not match Everton at all."
Liam Ridgewell, the Villa defender, was equally surprised that the team played so poorly against Everton.
"The killer goal was the second one, which came right after Solano scored our equaliser," Ridgewell said.
"Before that, there was hope, but we really did not deserve anything."
Thomas Hitzlsperger refused to discuss his future amid mounting speculation that he could be set to leave Villa Park to return to the German Bundesliga.
"All I want to talk about is how disappointed I am with our performance against Everton," the Villa midfield player said.