This at first refers to a run of form which has contributed just four points from their last four matches in the SPFL Premiership as well as Wednesday's exit from the Scottish League Cup, but recent game have also left the Firhill side scratching their heads since they have been contented with the standard of their performances. Alan Archibald will take his team to face St Johnstone tomorrow afternoon unburdened by a feeling of defeat, despite having lost heavily to Dundee United already this week.
Thistle could not find an answer to the Tannadice side's forwards but were still given credit for showing their working, with the Glasgow side seeking to break at pace and with preference to pass smoothly rather than lump the ball forward. They have encountered a new variable since graduating to the top flight in the summer, though, and it is one that the Thistle squad will have to get their heads around quickly if they are to steady themselves amid such stumbling form.
It is more important for Thistle to find their feet again in the league, although their midweek cup defeat has provided an example of where they have been coming up short. The visitors defended eagerly only for David Goodwillie to score three and United to register a 4-1 win. "That's the difference at this level; you need to take your chances," said Archibald, who has taken Estonian striker Hannes Anier on trial. "Goodie had three chances and scored three goals, and one was a half-chance. We had another moment like that against Kilmarnock [during a 1-1 draw last Saturday] when Kris Boyd scored with a header. That's what you get with quality strikers and if you can afford to get them in then fair play."
Archibald has been made to divide his attention between both ends of his team, given that Thistle have not managed to keep a clean sheet in any competition since a goalless draw on the opening day of the campaign. It is a topic which the manager hopes will encourage greater conversation among a defence which had an average age of just 22 at Tannadice.
"There's not a day goes by when we don't work the back four," Archibald said. "That's vital as it's all about communication, especially when you have young lads in the team like us. They talk a lot in the dressing room and when they are out for nights out but they don't seem to talk a lot when they are on the pitch. They didn't play too badly in terms of their defensive performance [on Wednesday night]. It was 4-1 so it's hard for me to come out and say that, but it's true."