The most obvious conclusion to draw when assessing Motherwell’s recent downward spiral from the high of reaching the Betfred Cup final as recently as late November, to Saturday’s dismal defeat to Hamilton - their ninth game on the spin without a win - is that the Louis Moult-shaped hole in their side’s attack has simply proven too big for anyone else at the club to fill.

But there is more to the alarming slump in form than the simple fact that top scorer Moult has been missing for seven of the games since the Steelmen went down to that defeat to Celtic at Hampden.

There is no denying that the number of goals they are scoring has tailed off. In the nine games prior to the League Cup final, they netted 15 times, with Moult getting six of those. The entire side has bagged just six goals in the same amount of matches since, so it is clear that finding the net regularly has become a problem.

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But is it all down to Moult’s absence? It could be argued that the injury to Chris Cadden, one of the team’s main creative forces, has had just as big an impact. Without his penetrating runs and the sheer volume of chances that the youngster creates, the strikers who have stepped into the void are working with far less opportunities coming their way.

Motherwell legend, Willie Pettigrew, a man who knew a thing or two about carrying the burden of responsibility for goalscoring down Fir Park way in his day, agrees that the hamstring injury suffered by Cadden is a major contributory factor to the blunting of his beloved side’s attacking threat.

“I was at the game on Saturday and Stephen Robinson must have a plan to cope with life after Louis Moult,” said Pettigrew. “He’s known for a while that Moult wasn’t going to be here after January, so he’ll be chasing targets down and he does have to be replaced.

“But the other thing he has had to contend with is the lad Cadden getting injured as well, because he is one of the bigger players. He’s the main supplier of balls into the box, and I think we’ve missed that.”

One thing that Moult’s departure has brought into stark focus, is how thinly spread the goals are in this Motherwell side. Ryan Bowman has tried to carry the fight up front, scoring five in the league, while Craig Tanner has bagged the same amount from his position just off the strikers. Alex Fisher has yet to score and looks to be fighting for his future at the club after some thinly-veiled criticisms of late from his manager, while young George Newell has only just returned from injury.

In particular though, it is stark how few goals come from the centre of the park for Motherwell. Andy Rose has scored two and Elliott Frear has a single goal on league duty. Cadden, despite his creative input and four goals in the League Cup, has yet to score in the league, and not one of Carl McHugh, Allan Campbell, Liam Grimshaw or Gael Bigirimana have scored in the Premiership in a combined total of 41 starts between the four of them.

“The manager has asked the strikers that are there to man up and take the lead, but I’ve always been a great believer that goals can come from anywhere,” said Pettigrew.

“Of course, the manager will want more from the likes of Bowman and Fisher, but games aren’t only won by strikers, they are won by goals from midfield as well, and I think a few of them have to look at themselves as well and start scoring goals.

“Anybody playing Motherwell up to now has known that if they take Louis Moult out of the equation, then who else was going to score?”

The number of goals going in at the other end is also a cause for concern, something that cannot be pinned on Moult’s absence, and again the contrast prior and post-League Cup final is stark. They had lost just 19 goals in the entire league season to that point from 20 fixtures, while 18 have flown into their net in the last nine.

That suggests that the high-pressing game that was the hallmark of their early season success has tailed off, and they are easier to play against now than they were at the start of the campaign. Fatigue, of course, could be the major factor behind that, with so much physical effort expended to this point, particularly in a gruelling six-day period when they faced Celtic on three occasions among some other tough fixtures.

“That’s a huge effort,” said Pettigrew. “You are playing the best team in the league and you want to do well, so you push yourself that bit harder. That will have taken a fair amount out of them.

“I think that once this spell is over they will regroup and come back stronger again.

“We’re not reaching for the panic button yet. The good work has been done.

“The club is now fan-owned, the board are fans as well and they’ve backed Stephen Robinson, and he has done really well.

“If the season ended now, you’d be saying ‘we’ve got to the League Cup final, they’re eighth in the table, that’s decent.’ But they have to push it over the line now.”