Stevie May hopes a no-nonsense dressing room inquest is the start of a healing process from a harrowing Viaplay Cup campaign and helps solve St Johnstone’s problems before the Premiership kick-off.

Steven MacLean savaged his squad to leave them in little doubt that a 4-0 home humiliation to Stirling Albion was unacceptable.

May revealed that he and his fellow senior pros were then left to sift through the troubling early-season issues in search of solutions.

The fix had better be a quick one. The visit of Hearts has taken on a daunting look for the Perth strugglers who lost to a team in each of the three lower divisions in Group A.

Darren Young’s side, champions of League Two last term, were well worth their victory.

They successfully targeted the soft centre of a Saints side sorely lacking in confidence, leadership and - worryingly from MacLean’s own verdict - short on commitment.

There wasn’t a player who could offer a disagreement, as May revealed: “The manager said his piece after and then said he wanted the senior ones in for a meeting. 

“So we had that. It was opened up. A few different people said what they had to say and the manager asked a few of us what we thought.

“It was important for the manager to let everyone know what he’s thinking. He gave it 15 minutes after the game so that all the injured ones could come down.

“Everyone was in on it. It’s good to have that before we start the week leading up to our first league game.

“Within ourselves, we know it’s not good enough. Now we need to regroup. It’s on to league business and it has to be much better.

“It’s so clear that it’s not good enough – in general, not just against Stirling.

“Stirling are a good side but they’re a League One team and we should be able to put out a team that wins comfortably, especially at home, against them. There’s no excuses.

“It’s about us sorting ourselves out and wiping the slate clean before Hearts.”

The partnership of captain Liam Gordon and 19-year-old debutant Liam Parker was suspect as Stirling scored in 11 minutes through a Greig Spence header. Lewis Milne made it 2-0 before the break.

The interval introduction of Andy Considine and Ryan McGowan’s experience failed to steady the ranks.

From deliveries by Jack Leitch, skipper Paul McLean twice profited from disorganisation to net a double. 

May conceded the Viaplay Cup section, which included defeats to Stenhousemuir and Ayr United, was a tough introduction for several Perth hopefuls.

In addition to Parker’s aborted outing, Alex Ferguson, Ben McCrystal, Jackson Mylchreest and Scott Bright all saw some action against Albion.

May said: “They’re getting a great chance to be involved in first team football.

“It’s not easy and it’s not always pretty. You want to come in and win games but that’s not happened.

“Ben, especially, in the middle of the park, came on and did really well. That was one of the only positives.”

MacLean, who spared Saints a brush with relegation during his interim appointment, requires his injury list to clear and more new faces.

Striker Luke Jephcott was the only new boy to feature as Bulgarian keeper Dimitar Mitov remained on the bench.

They hope to confirm a deal for ex-Chelsea defender Sam McClelland, 21, today.

But May knows the responsibility lies with established players to steer St Johnstone through this shaky start.

He added: “The manager reminded us there are still a lot of players here who finished last season really well and picked up points. We need to build ourselves up again.”