Poor, error-ridden defensive performances looked like a thing of the past as MK Dons clicked into gear and soared up the table earlier this season. But since December, new leaks have been springing up throughout the back-line.
Injuries to Joe Walsh, George Williams and Mathieu Baudry have left Paul Tisdale scrambling, trying to slot square pegs into round holes. And while Jordan Moore-Taylor has been sorely missed since he first limped out of action in November, pinning the downturn of an entire team on one man's absence is wishful thinking, even if the dates do seem to line-up somewhat.
Errors have been rearing their ugly heads all over the place. Walsh, since his return from injury, looked shaky against Bury, and despite scoring at Exeter, was key in the goal which killed the game. The other culprit for Nicky Law's goal, Lee Nicholls, has not covered himself in glory recently either. Goals conceded at Stevenage, Bury, Northampton and arguably Swindon's two open-play goals on Saturday at Stadium MK should have been dealt with better by the Dons number one.
Picking up just seven points from a possible 30 has seen Dons tumble out of the top seven for the first time since September, though a remarkable season in League 2 means if should they win at Newport County on Tuesday night, Dons could climb back to fourth, three points from automatic promotion. But given their recent defensive displays and their horrid form on the road, few could be forgiven for skipping the rearranged trip to Rodney Parade.
"We're on a run at the moment that has not cemented anyone in the side," Tisdale said prior to the game against Swindon. "The teams has lost it's rhythm, and there are very few who are cemented in this team."
With that in mind, and with frustrations mounting both in the terraces and on the touchline, Tuesday night is almost a free pass for Tisdale to make wholesale changes to his defence in a bid to rattle cages and fire home some truths. Baudry looked impressive on his two recent performances but has not been seen since New Year's Day and Callum Brittain has recently returned to training after an ankle problem which ruled him out since late November. And while it may be unpopular in some circles, handing Stuart Moore his first league start for the club would certainly make a statement in the one position managers are normally resistant to change.
"If we're going to win games, we cannot concede three goals," he added after defeat to Swindon. "It has happened too much in recent months. We're not not talking about it, but we have to stop it happening."
Whether swapping out all the faltering parts at once will result in an upturn in fortunes is a wild stab in the dark, but after two wins in 10, it certainly can't be any worse.