Michael Doyle has called on Pompey to shelve talk of promotion – and focus on kickstarting their season.
Saturday’s dismal defeat to Leyton Orient means the Blues have won one of their last six League Two matches.
Jobi McAnuff’s 53rd-minute stunner separated the sides, yet didn’t fully illustrate the awful Pompey performance.
Paul Cook’s men were booed at the final whistle as they slumped to seventh spot, only present in the play-offs through goal difference.
Disappointed skipper Doyle described the team’s current situation as a ‘rut’.
And he believes they need to concentrate on the present and beating Bristol Rovers next weekend, rather than looking further down the line.
He said: ‘It’s a 50-game season and unfortunately you are not going to be at your best for all those matches.
‘You are going to have days like Saturday which none of us like.
‘The fans don’t like it, as players we certainly don’t like it, but you have just got to show your character now. You need to pick yourself up and make sure you are ready to go next week because it makes the game a lot bigger than it already was.
‘I don’t think we can have any complaints about Saturday.
‘They had some chances to kill the game off and in the second half when the onus was on us we didn’t look like scoring.
‘As a squad we are well aware recent results haven’t gone our way and have kind of tailed off.
‘Pretty obviously we were looking for automatic promotion and now are making it really difficult for ourselves.
‘I think right now all talk like that has to be put on the backburner, you have to make sure to win your next game and get out of this rut.
‘This whole week now from today is about performance and training, making sure you bring that performance into the Bristol Rovers game and whatever you have got on your shoulders leave it behind.
‘It’s about how you react to it and that is what’s going to be important now.
‘If we show the character to get ourselves up the table next week it can go a long way in having a say in whether we get promoted.’
Kevin Nolan’s side also struck the bar and post during the second half as the hosts wilted.
Pompey found themselves well beaten and nursing a third straight Fratton Park defeat.
Doyle added: ‘We were second best and I don’t think there are too many times this season we have said that.
‘Three or four times after they scored they countered on us and we have got to thank our lucky stars it wasn’t more than 1-0.
‘There have been two defeats in a week at home, one against Bournemouth and the other on Saturday.
‘The fans were clapping us off last week and the reason they clap you off is because they are proud of your performance, proud of the way you play, the way you represented that club.
‘Then you get days like Orient when we were nowhere near the standards.
‘You can talk about conditions and weather and things like that but it all goes out the window because it was no different to last week.’