This is an excerpt from this week's Claret and Amber Alert, a free Motherwell newsletter written by Graeme McGarry that goes out every Thursday at 6pm. To sign up, click here.

IT’S always nice, particularly in times such as these, to start on a positive. So, in that spirit, let me kick off by saying it was great to see Lennon Miller extending his contract this week until the summer of 2026.

If he is still at Fir Park by then, I will be amazed, such is his talent. But in signing the extension, he has ensured Motherwell will be properly recompensed if he does leave, something he didn’t have to do with his star so on the rise.

There would have been plenty of suitors ready to put a deal in front of him next January, and clubs with far deeper pockets than Motherwell. So, fair play to him.

He has backed his ability, and ensured that the club who invested in him and gave him a pathway to first team football will be protected. And if a big move doesn’t come, then he is in a place where he knows he is valued.

Fair play to the club, too, who would have received all sorts of stick had he left for the paltry training compensation they received for Max Johnston 18 months down the road.

And credit to Stuart Kettlewell for having no qualms about throwing him into his side and keeping him there, no matter the dire circumstances his team may have been facing.

READ MORE: Motherwell 1 Hearts 2: Shankland double sinks hosts

Which rather neatly, if unfortunately, brings us to the here and now.

The only real positive I could take from Saturday’s defeat to Hearts was that I had the day off and had kindly been invited by a mate of mine into hospitality, so at least I had the comfort of a few pints to get me through the afternoon.

I must admit, I thought said friend had been overdoing it a little when he sketched out the starting XI to me, because he was proposing that Blair Spittal would be operating from left wing-back.

Furthermore, he was adamant the three-pronged attack with Theo Bair and Connor Wilkinson operating wide of Mika Biereth - that had failed to produce much of a sniff at goal against Kilmarnock - would again be on show.

But, sure enough, as we emerged into the cold light of the Phil O’Donnell Stand, there it was.

In Kettlewell we trust, and all that. The manager, despite the recent run of defeats, still has plenty of credit in the bank in my view, and he knows a damn sight more about the game than I ever will.

Still, it was evident from very early on that the tinkering to his tried and trusted ‘formula’ – as he himself has put it – hadn’t paid off.

Hearts dominated. Their main creative force, Alex Lowry, had the run of the pitch. When Motherwell had possession, the players seemed simply to shell it in the rough direction of a front three who were so narrow you could have thrown a hanky over them.

And yet again, a goal was conceded from a corner kick, an avenue which had accounted for both goals lost at St Johnstone.

Managers always tell you that in this division, with so little between so many of the teams, set plays are so important. And if you have a consistent problem defending them, then you are in trouble. I know that the coaching staff have been utilising the international break to impress upon the players the need to up their concentration levels in this regard.

To his credit, Kettlewell did revert back to something near his more trademark set-up at the interval, and the result was a much improved performance. Yes, another cheap goal was lost, but the players were suddenly connecting with one another, and were causing Hearts problems.

READ MORE: Gallagher 'astonished' Hearts were not awarded a penalty v Motherwell

They showed character, were rewarded with Spittal’s conversion from the spot, and may even have snatched a draw in the end that would, in fairness, have fallen a little into the Dick Turpin category.

The chat among the fans after the game was all about why the manager hadn’t set up his team like that from the get-go. Though, had he done so, and Hearts had still won, the talk would likely have centred around why he wasn’t shaking things up.

I can see the manager's thinking. By freshening things up, he will be hoping to spark a reaction. Perhaps though, instead of forcing square pegs into round holes, it is a reversion to basics that is required, and starting players in their natural positions.

If he was coming in fresh as Motherwell manager today and looking to arrest this run, I am almost certain that is the policy he would adopt. It was one that worked so well for him, after all, when he did take over from Stevie Hammell.

Kettlewell isn't naive. He knows he is under pressure.

But one has to hope that he can get the results required following the visit to Celtic Park to keep him in post, because it would be such a shame if the work he is putting into his longer term vision for the club - developing players, selling them on and gradually improving Motherwell's overall position as a result - is lost to short-term panic.