Star Melbourne City striker Jamie Maclaren has equalled his longest A-League Men goalscoring drought since 2015, but coach Aurelio Vidmar says his team has more pressing concerns.
The 5-1 loss to Brisbane Roar on Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium was the defending premiers' fourth loss in five games, with Vidmar conceding his players did not compete and were not in the contest against the hungry and clinical Roar.
Vidmar said it was a "painful" reality that must be rectified when City host Melbourne Victory on Saturday in the local derby.
All-time ALM leading goalscorer Maclaren has not found the net in his last six games. The last time he did that was in the 2014/ 2015 season when he was playing for Perth Glory.
Vidmar said it was not an unusual circumstance for an elite marksman.
"You know what the strikers are like. They are going to hit a purple patch and sometimes they go through periods where they are not scoring," Vidmar said.
"He's had quite a few chances over the weeks and a couple again tonight. It is like that for the strikers. Sometimes the goal looks like a mouse hole and sometimes it looks like it is double the size."
Maclaren remains the club's leading scorer this year with seven. The Socceroo is still getting in position to score and had shots that were well negotiated by goalkeeper Macklin Freke.
Of more concern to the coach is the fact that he had to admit after the match that "we weren't competitive". He said the looming Victory clash "could" be a godsend in rectifying that development.
"We can't put our head in the sand at all," he said.
"We have to face up to some realities, accept a lot of things and continue to move on. It is painful but there is no other way.
"We should be competitive every week. It doesn't matter that it is a derby coming up. We prepared really well over the last weeks and hit a few patches but today … is very disappointing for everyone."
City had beaten the Roar 8-1 in their previous encounter. Vidmar conceded it was "a strange league" this season but backed his side to also find a way to rebound.
"We have got to keep working. There is no other way out of it," he said.
"We have got to keep believing and get through the process. We are not the first team to get battered and won't be the first team to have to try and respond.
"As poor as it is, and how disappointed everyone is, you just have to get back on the horse."