"Bar hitting them over the head with an axe, I'm not sure what more you can do," said the Rangers manager. He was joking, obviously, but the underlying message was clear enough.
A squad who should be good enough to stroll to the third division title with a dozen fixtures to spare have instead found life an almighty struggle. That was never more apparent than in their last outing a fortnight ago when they were beaten by Stirling Albion, the side propping up the rest of Scottish football.
McCoist tied himself in verbal knots at the time trying not to label the result an embarrassment but was at pains yesterday to explain that was more to avoid being disrespectful than it was to ignore the seriousness of the situation.
"I'm shocked and disappointed by any defeat – and that will hopefully never go away – but I didn't want to detract from Stirling Albion beating us. Instead of embarrassed, dismay and disappointment would probably be better. They're stronger."
McCoist has sheltered his players often enough this season but, ahead of this afternoon's derby with Queen's Park, made it clear that perhaps it was time for them to take on the responsibility, making it clear he wants them to show a greater willingness to get stuck in, rather than complain about the robust play of rivals.
"We have to match up to the physicality of it, that's the bottom line," he said. "We don't have to start rolling about and putting our hands up to the ref. We just have to start getting the sleeves rolled up and giving [opponents] the same back, but fairly. I think the physical side of the matches probably has come as a shock to one or two of the older ones [in his squad] maybe."
Neil Alexander, the Rangers goalkeeper, agreed with his manager on that point but felt the players deserved better protection from referees. "In the Stirling game there were numerous tackles that went unpunished," he said. "There was a tackle on me where the boy went in two-footed and I was lucky I didn't get carried off. I said to the referee, 'what's it going to take for you to produce a red card? For me to spend the night in hospital?'. But if we get kicked and the referee does nothing, we have to get on with it."
McCoist feels Rangers have used the two weeks since the Stirling game productively. Views have been aired and points made with the aim of ensuring there are no more slip-ups. "We sat and eyeballed each other, talked, cleared the air, and had good discussions and I think that's healthy," he said. "Obviously, everyone doesn't necessarily agree with each other's opinions but I'm the man who has to make the decisions it and they know that.
"I have total confidence in our players getting out of the division but we can't have any more wake-up calls. We've run out of going to places and saying we're up against this or that, or that it's not a very good ground. So it's time we did something about it."