Paul Tisdale admits the start of the League Two season has come too early for his Exeter City side, but has warned his players to find their feet quickly.
The Grecians host York City on Saturday following a gruelling opening three league fixtures that has seen them face Portsmouth, Plymouth Argyle and Burton Albion – teams widely tipped to be battling out for promotion come May.
City’s plight hasn’t been helped either by a transfer embargo hanging over the club until last Friday and illness in the camp.
However, Tisdale says that these are the circumstances the players find themselves in and they can’t go looking for excuses.
“There are no favours given or excuses allowed in this league,” he said. “You have to get on and play every game and you get judged on your results.
“So we will be trying to play against York City with the same level of performance that we put in against Portsmouth and Bournemouth in our last two home games.
“I’m expecting that from the players, we have to be very positive and draw on the things we have done well already.”
City managed to pick up a 1-1 draw in their opening home game against Pompey. It was widely regarded as a good result as Andy Awford’s South Coast side are favourites for the title this season.
However, in York Tisdale sees another formidable opponent – especially when he takes into account how well they ended last season.
“When we played them in early March we should have got something from that game, I remember us missing some very good chances,” said Tisdale.
“However, after that win, York went on an incredible run, they settled into a pattern and became a very effective team. They had an incredible run of results.
“During the summer, their manager hasn’t changed and their squad has potentially improved. So there is no reason to believe that they won’t be challenging again if they continue what they did towards the end of last season.
“We have to respect that it is going to be one of the top third teams that we will be playing against at the Park on Saturday.”
Home form has been a cause for frustration for Tisdale in the past two seasons.
City have managed to pick up some impressive results on the road, with their quick counter-attacking football, but have struggled to impose themselves against sides at St James’s Park.
Sam Parkin was brought in last summer to try and help solve that problem, and while the 6ft 2ins tall striker started the campaign off well, his goalscoring record and performances tailed off badly.
Graham Cummins is the latest forward to join the club and performed well in his first outing at Plymouth.
And while Tisdale is optimistic he could be the striker they have been searching for, he is wary of putting too much pressure on the 26-year-old.
“He has made a very encouraging start,” said Tisdale. “There were lots of promising aspects to his game on Saturday at Plymouth.
“However, it would be very early to predict what impact he could have on the team. Any signing will be judged after a long period of time, not just after a couple of games.
“So potentially we have found someone who will be the all-action striker that we need. Someone who can score goals, lead the line, drive us forward, get us defending from the front and just be a threat physically and tactically. I think the signs are good, but it is very early days and I wouldn’t want to put too much pressure on him this soon.
“One thing is for sure is that it will help Tom Nichols. Tom can’t carry on being the only striker at the club.
“We have got Jamie Reid, who is a long-standing absentee, but even Graham Cummins coming into the squad is going to provide support and competition for places with Tom.
“I have now got two strikers, whereas last week I only had one. So that is a plus in itself.”
Watch highlights from Exeter City's 2-1 win over York City at St James's Park last season, thanks to two goals from Alan Gow.