What’s happened to my defence?
That was the question on Dundee United gaffer Ray McKinnon’s mind after Saturday’s 6-2 hammering in the Scottish Cup at Ross County.
And it’s one he is determined to find the answer to quickly.
The Tangerines were not pinned back for any sustained period at the Global Energy but, during the first half in particular, were in danger of conceding every time the Staggies crossed the half-way line.
Those 45 minutes saw the home team score four times and miss another couple of gilt-edged chances.
United did rally after the break, but, as they pressed to get back in the tie, were hit by two more late goals.
And the manager admitted on the day it was his team’s defending that cost them any chance of causing an upset.
“For a team that went six or seven games without losing a goal not so long ago, it was really disappointing to see how we defended,” he said.
“I was disappointed to lose a goal so quickly when we got back to 1-1.
“We gave away a cheap free-kick and didn’t deal with the second phase when Cammy Bell saved it.
“I think the next two goals were disappointing as well.
“At that point they’ve really had four chances and scored four goals.
“That’s not good enough. We did change things.
“Frank van der Struijk hadn’t played for nine weeks and came in at right-back, Jamie Robson is a young kid at left-back.
“I am not making excuses and that’s not to say they were the ones at fault but we were trying to get them game time by throwing them in against a very good side.”
Ray did feel United were much improved in the second half but had to take risks and were punished.
“At 4-2 it was important we came out and upped the intensity. I thought for 30 minutes we did that very well.
“We just couldn’t get that third goal and, if we could have, it would have been a different game.
“Then we get caught with the sucker punches near the end.
“Overall, it’s disappointing to lose that amount of goals, and fair play to Ross County, they deserved it on the day. We need to take that one on the chin.”
For a time before kick-off the tie was in doubt because of fog and visibility varied during the 90 minutes but both Ray and opposite number Jim McIntyre agreed referee Kevin Clancy was right to let the action go ahead.
County now face Aberdeen in the fifth round.