Gainsborough Trinity boss Steve Housham believes his side’s FA Cup run is papering over the cracks after they were beaten 3-0 by Curzon Ashton.
A first half finish from Niall Cummins, was added to after the break by Jordan Wright and Alex Brown as Curzon ran out comfortable winners.
Trinity have now picked up only four points from the last eight league games, causing the Blues to ghost towards the drop zone in the National League North.
They sit only three points above it thanks to their third successive defeat.
Housham said: “Not many positives at all from the game. The positives, if any, were probably Marc Newsham and Nathan Jarman and Dom Roma slipping in at centre half.
“On a great pitch, we never kept it that well, we never got it wide and I said to them at half time the difference in the teams was there wingers. They were providing, ours wasn’t and we had a long discussion in there.”
“It could be a long week and we are going to have to get some players in. Unfortunately injuries happen and we can’t hide behind that. Jake Picton picked up a yellow card and he is now suspended and we are down from four centre halves to none. We might even have to bring in new faces for the FA Cup tie.
“The cup run is putting wallpaper over cracks really. They are disappointed in there and so they should be. We’ve had half chances, given away a sloppy goal and Newsham had that chance when he probably hit it too well and Liam hit the post. We probably gave up the ghost a wee bit and I don’t think anyone had their minds on next weeks game as they were getting stuck into challenges.
“Looking in the mirror tonight, a lot of them will talk back to themselves and say I wasn’t good enough on the day.
“Last week we didn’t make one mistake and dug deep. If you look at the formation, we had to revert back to 4-4-2 and go man for man out there, we now have to question whether we can play that way. We’ve got a big game next week and had the chance to play for the shirt and not many did that today.”
Gainsborough manager Steve Housham was enforced to make three changes to the side which defeated Wrexham in the FA Cup last time out.
Two were down to injuries picked up in the week with both Jonathan D’Laryea and Matt Wilson sweating on their fitness ahead of the big game with Shrewsbury Town.
Assistant manager Darryn Stamp dropped to the bench for the trip to Greater Manchester, with Stephen Brogan, Liam Davis and Jamie Yates coming in.
On a day when you expected minds to be elsewhere, Gainsborough began brightly, fashioning a chance within the opening minute as Nathan Jarman glanced a header wide from a Brogan free kick.
It was as good as it got in the first half barring a dipping Jarman volley midway through the half as in form Curzon dominated possession and territory.
In the 15th minute, the Blues somehow managed to avoid going behind as from a corner, two attempts were blocked by the Trinity defence before Jan Budtz prevented a third strike flying into the top corner.
Budtz then prevented Matthew Warburton with a near post save after he beat the offside trap, minutes before the Tamesiders broke the deadlock.
Cummins tapped home from a low Wright cross, after the right back took advantage of a poor attempt to play offside down the left hand side of the Blues defence.
It could have been worse before half time as Warburton twice had shots saved from Budtz before the half time whistle was blown.
Trinity needed the break to re-gather their thoughts and it seemed that they had done when Marc Newsham volleyed firmly on target after excellent work by Jarman down the left hand side, three minutes after the restart.
The Blues could not capitalise though and 15 minutes later Brogan had to clear the ball off the line from a corner.
Within seconds of this, Gainsborough were a post away from being level.
The ball was cleared out of defence for Davis to chase, beating the oncoming goalkeeper Hakan Burton to the ball and lofting it over him. Curzon centre half Dan Shaw desperately tried to get back to clear and found himself in the net, with the ball clipping the post before going wide.
The hosts were not shaken by the turn of event and extended their lead two minutes later.
Wright advanced forward once more down the right and drilled a shot across goal which eluded Budtz, much to the delight of the Tameside Stadium.
Wright had chance to add to his tally with a long range strike that drifted wide of the post before the Curzon captain, Brown added a third with a distance shot that dipped under the outstretched arm of Budtz.
Trinity could not formulate any efforts of their own in the remaining minutes, with a late Brogan free kick curled narrowly wide in injury time.
Gainsborough Trinity: Budtz, Lacey, Brogan, Binns, Roma, Picton, Russell, Davis, Newsham, Jarman, Yates (Rigby 68) Subs (not used): Hedge, Stamp, Bemrose.
Curzon Ashton: Burton, Wright (Rowney 72), Guest, Hunt, Flynn, Shaw, Tomsett (Atkinson 77), Brown, Cummins (Brooke 76), Warburton, Hampson. Subs (not used): Watson, Mason.
Goalscorers: Cummins 30, Wright 63, Brown 76.
Bookings: Picton, Jarman; Tomsett, Brooke.
Referee: Mr K Mulraine. Assistants: Mr T Parsons, Mr S Taylor.