Struggling St Johnstone have slipped out of the top six for the first time in months.
But manager Tommy Wright has rejected accusations that time is catching up on his 2014 Scottish Cup winners and four times Europa League qualifiers.
His Perth side are without a win in their last seven league games but despite being overtaken by Highland duo Ross County and Inverness Caley Thistle, he’s confident his squad should be looking up rather than down.
Wright said: “We’ve been on this type of run before and we have the experience in the squad to deal with it.
“Some commentators say we look an ageing team but the average age of the squad is 26. That’s not an ageing team and we weren’t considered an ageing team in December when we got a lot of good results.
“I see the players every day and I don’t see them tired.
“We’re not looking for excuses we have to do better. But I believe the squad is strong enough to get in the top six.”
Wright admitted: “We’re not on a run we like but we’ve been here before.
“Everyone throws it up, but my job is to be positive. We’re only a point off fourth and just two points off where we were at this stage last year.
“Last year though we were 11 points off fourth. We’re still in a good position if we can get off this run.
“We need to be a little bit more positive in the final third and make our own luck rather than expect things to happen. Little decisions have gone against us.
“It’s down to me and the players to turn it round. We’re not panicking as we’ve been here before. Yes, we have to start winning but it’s not all doom and gloom.”
Just half a dozen points separate Ross County in fourth and Kilmaraock in the play-off slot.
Wright said: “I don’t think I’ve been in such a tight league before. Last season we were sixth or seventh and 16 points from the play-off so the team in fourth were 27 clear of 11th place.
“This season it’s much tighter. Teams have got stronger and I did say at the start of the season I thought it would closer in the league. Your glass is either half-empty or half-full. We think it’s half-full.
“It’s for media and supporters to be negative. I don’t see why we should be negative because we can still be in a healthy position.
“When we come in on a Monday it’s not doom and gloom. We are aware of the fact people say we’re in a habit of not winning, but we’ve always finished the season strongly.
“We’ve always hovered around the top six. We’ve never nailed it down until it comes to the nitty-gritty.
“We have nine games before the split and we need to get as many points as possible.
“The two games in hand are important. That can go a long way to cementing the top six.”
Full-back Brian Easton will again be posted missing this weekend as Saints host Motherwell.
He has still not fully recovered from a foot wound sustained in the League Cup defeat from Hibs.
But midfielder Chris Millar could start after being kept on the bench in the derby defeat from Dundee.
Wright, who watched Well beat Dundee United 3-0 at Tannadice in midweek, said: “We have a settled back-four but we have had a few other injuries that’s part and parcel of the game.
“But we had injuries when we went to Aberdeen and scored five. Key at the moment is that we keep conceding the first goal and that makes it difficult.”