Tony Mowbray wants to see some steel from his Middlesbrough players before their promotion hopes evaporate altogether.
Boro slipped further away from the play-off places after a 2-0 defeat to Bristol City, their second away defeat to struggling opponents in four days.
Mowbray said: "I have to put a positive spin on our position because if we were just off the play-off places having been mid-table all season we would be happy enough.
"Because we have fallen away from the top of the table since the New Year, in a similar way to last season, there is a lot of negativity and I have to turn that around.
"Conceding two late goals at Huddersfield in midweek hit the players hard and it took a couple of days to recover. But we changed formation from that game and started this one in control.
"Sammy Ameobi was ruled out with a hamstring problem and we missed him. We must have made 500 or 600 passes without getting a meaningful strike on goal."