Gareth Southgate was at a loss to explain why his Middlesbrough team made yet another slow start in the 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Chelsea.
Boro have now conceded in the opening ten minutes of their last four Premier League outings, with Southgate admitting that such lapses leave his side facing an uphill struggle.
He told the club's official website: "We didn't get out of the blocks at all and we didn't make contact with them up to the point where they scored the first goal.
"We look a bit short of confidence and belief, but that only comes from taking the lead in games and putting teams under pressure. We set out to do that and why we didn't I'm not quite sure at the moment.
"It's the fourth game on the bounce where we've conceded in the first ten minutes and it gives you an absolute mountain to climb.
"We know it's a difficult period for us, but we have to maintain a sense of perspective. We were in a similar position last year and we have plenty to come back into the squad.
"The responsibility comes down to me and I have to pick everyone up and we go again next week.
"We're going to have to raise the level of performance. We're not doing enough to win matches and that has to change."