Cliftonville boss Tommy Breslin has backed his players to breathe some life into their ailing season in the weeks ahead.
The Reds have so far struggled to reach the heights that saw them surge to the Gibson Cup last year.
The Solitude outfit earned lofty praise for the quality they injected into the Irish League, but this season they have come under the spotlight for different reasons.
Just six wins from their opening 13 games has dented confidence of a successful title defence.
The Reds have also won just one of their last six league outings.
Breslin hopes they can arrest their slump with victory over Dungannon on Saturday, and is confident they can regain the swagger that led them to the title last season.
“We can’t afford to fall any further behind. We are six points off Linfield so we want to make inroads on that,” said Breslin.
“I am not sure what it has been this season. Maybe the weight of being champions has brought its own pressure.
“The players just need to start enjoying playing football again, like they did last season.
“I still believe this is the best squad in Cliftonville’s history, and you don’t become a bad team overnight.
“So hopefully the players can go on a wee run. We are getting players back from injury and hopefully a consistent line-up will lead to consistent performances and victories.
“The encouraging fact is we are only six points off the lead, but we can’t afford to fall further behind.
“But we are all aware of what we have to do.”