Newcastle Jets coach Gary Van Egmond believes his team must get better at defusing the bombs A-League rivals throw at them.
Having suffered five losses in their past seven matches, the Jets have slipped out of the top six for the first time this season after their 3-2 defeat by Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Friday night.
The loss was difficult to take for a Jets side who had fought their way back into the match after trailing 2-0 at halftime.
But 60 seconds after equalising through Emile Heskey, they conceded a freakish match-winner to Victory's Marco Rojas.
Van Egmond remains confident his predominantly young squad is capable of growing into a consistently competitive outfit this season.
But he believes they are still to learn all the tricks needed to defuse opposition teams' attacking weaponry.
"The positioning, the organisation, there are areas that the young players have to get better in and recognise (the danger signs) before they actually occur," Van Egmond said.
"We just don't recognise the danger when we've got the ball.
"When we have the ball, we have to think when we're not involved in play, how we're going to defuse things, depending on what the situation is.
"But we can't cram for the HSC in two days. It takes a bit of time for some of these younger ones to identify it."
Van Egmond reiterated he would continue to show faith in his current squad, rather than go to the transfer window next month for quick-fixes.
Van Egmond believes captain Jobe Wheelhouse could make a welcome return from a knee injury against Adelaide United next weekend.
But he said Wheelhouse was almost certain to miss the Jets' next match against Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park on New Year's Day.