Glenn Maxwell launched into a scathing assessment of the Melbourne Stars' showings to start the Big Bash League season, repeatedly describing their early-season cricket as "putrid" after the Stars thudded to the bottom of the BBL ladder.
The Stars have never missed the competition's finals in six completed season but look increasingly likely to suffer that fate after being thumped by Brisbane Heat at the MCG on Tuesday night, making it three losses from three games this season.
The Heat chased down the Stars' total of 7-141 with 32 balls to spare, completing a nine wicket win which left the hosts in desperate need of a form reversal in Saturday night's MCG derby against the Melbourne Renegades, not to mention a net run rate boost.
The Stars have made the finals before after an 0-3 start, doing so three seasons ago in an eight-round season. Each side now plays 10 preliminary round matches, which makes the Stars' situation marginally less dire, but that was a mere silver lining for Maxwell after their display against Brisbane.
Initially at a loss to explain what was going wrong, Maxwell eventually came to the conclusion that pretty much nothing was going right.
"First game we didn't bowl well enough and didn't field well enough. Second game we didn't bat with any brains whatsoever, and this game it just all fell apart," the all-rounder said, speaking before the announcement of the Australian one-day squad, from which he was dumped on Wednesday.
"We were putrid today. We've got to turn it around. Otherwise it's going to unravel pretty quickly.
"We're lucky it's a longer competition this year where we've got at least seven more opportunities. Mathematically we can still finish top. I suppose that's a positive.
"We're not looking like going anywhere but bottom at the moment, because we're playing terrible cricket. We're not probably playing together as a team."
Maxwell had made just eight and four in the Stars' first two games for the season but top-scored with 50 from 39 balls on Tuesday night, caught in the deep with two overs to go in his side's innings. But far from pleased with his own performance, Maxwell said he hadn't scored quickly enough.
"I cost us plenty out there because I just couldn't hit the ball," he said.
"It was frustrating. It was pretty embarrassing to tell you the truth, to spend that much time out in the middle and not even really contribute to the match. I basically just handed it to them on a platter.
"It's not good enough. Simple as that."
Appointed Stars captain ahead of this season, John Hastings continues to struggle, making a duck, going for 22 runs from two wicketless overs, and dropping Heat gun Chris Lynn in the first over of the chase. Yet Maxwell said the team needed to provide better support for their skipper.
"There's probably almost too many leaders clouding his decision making," Maxwell said.
"We probably need to be there, supportive but not overrule him."
Maxwell conceded that changes to the XI would be needed ahead of the derby, but insisted the Stars remained tight.
"That's one thing we can always fall back on," he said.
"We're not going to splinter off or go our different directions, which can sometimes happen I suppose in a state setup, because you can go back to your homes, you're bitter about certain things. I suppose with franchise cricket, these guys are all staying at the Olsen [Hotel], we get together all the time.
"It gives us hope that we can fight back and turn this around really quickly. I don't think it's a better time for the derby to come around."