Manager James McPake admits his Dundee side are in a “dangerous position” after falling to their second defeat in three games.
Ayr United this time did for the Dee at Dens Park after seeing off McPake’s men with a deserved 3-1 victory.
That leaves the Dark Blues in fourth place in the Championship table as they missed a chance to overtake Raith Rovers following their home defeat to Inverness.
Despite a positive start, Dundee fell away in the game after Paul McGowan’s error gifted Mark McKenzie the opener.
The striker added his second late on, making it 3-0 after Cammy Smith had netted shortly after half-time.
Osman Sow would get a consolation late on but it was too little too late.
And McPake admits “naivety” from him and his team cost them against the experienced David Hopkin in the Ayr dugout.
The Dundee boss said: “When you start a game so bright and fall behind, it shouldn’t spook you.
“It was an uncharacteristic mistake from Paul McGowan and he holds his hands up for the mistake.
“The second goal for me is equally as bad as the first, we had him in the corner and somehow the ball ends up in the back of our net. That’s criminal defending.
“What beat us tonight was a bit of naivety from me and my players – trying to play football on a pitch that wasn’t suited to that.
“Ayr did the opposite and were very direct.
“I’m not having a pop at the way they play – David Hopkin has taken a team out of this league, I’ve got nowhere near it yet.”
‘Eight cup finals’
Despite the defeat and the disappointing nature of the performance, Dundee can still go level with second-placed Dunfermline by beating Alloa on Friday night.
And that’s the focus between now and the end of the season.
“It is eight cup finals,” McPake added.
“Friday is a massive game going to Alloa.
“It is a shortened season and we are in a dangerous position. We should be a lot closer to Hearts and should be challenging them.
“We should be in second place, that’s our aim now but back to work tomorrow.”