Manager Steve Bruce admitted Birmingham have to play to their maximum in every match to survive in the Premier League as he challenged his players to prove the woeful show at Middlesbrough was a one-off.

Bruce’s encouragement at early season performances was brought crashing down to earth after the 2-0 defeat at the Riverside Stadium. He has had to wait nearly a fortnight to work with the majority of his players again because of international call-ups.

"We got our backsides kicked against Middlesbrough. There is no other way of putting it. We started poorly and finished poorly," he said. "Possibly only one player played to their potential in Cameron Jerome while the rest simply weren’t good enough and we made Middlesbrough look very good on the day.

"It was disappointing as we had seen in the previous games that we can be competitive in this league but on that day we didn’t play well collectively, individually or as a team.

"The message it sent out was if you think you can stroll it or take your foot off the pedal, then you can’t. If we are to do well we have to have everyone at 100% in every game.

"If we fall short of that in a couple of areas, then we are going to have a struggle. I am under no illusions and I hope the fans will think that way to, that is going to be tough

"We had been encouraged by the performances over the previous four or five games, especially at Derby and at Chelsea.

"It would have been ideal to start work with them all last Monday and go over things what happened at Middlesbrough again but they have all been away with the internationals. We have to have a response."

Bruce is looking for Jerome to continue the fine form that brought him two goals at Derby and an impressive performance in a lost cause at Middlesbrough. He said: "If Jerome keeps playing like he has done recently then we’ve got a very good striker on our hands.

"We all know he has got blistering pace and power which you need at this level and at his best he is a handful for everybody.

"But it is repeating it regularly. That’s what Premier League players do. They are capable of reaching a level and sustaining it.

"It’s okay doing it one week or two weeks. You’ve got to do it every week as well."