DPMM vow comeback in season's second half
They may be a staggering 11 points off the pace at the halfway mark of the 2016 Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League campaign.
But try telling Brunei DPMM coach Steve Kean that their hopes of retaining the title are over and the response is a steely determination that they can still turn things around.
After their outstanding displays last year saw them crowned S.League champions for the first time, DPMM have been anything but dominant; they are behind leaders Albirex Niigata in fifth place, after just five wins in their opening 13 games.
Although there have been times when the Bruneian outfit were unlucky not to win, they had no excuses in their last match when they were handed a 5-0 hammering by Home United - which Kean (above, right) described as "our worst display in my time here".
To make matters worse, the preliminary round of the RHB Singapore Cup, which they were not involved in, followed by the international break, means DPMM have spent the last three weeks with little to do but stew over that abysmal performance.
Nonetheless, Kean is adamant that his charges' strong character will see them determined to make amends, starting with tomorrow's visit to Tampines Rovers.
"The break has been terrible because you want to bounce back immediately after such a terrible result," Kean told The New Paper.
"But you can either get depressed about it or use it as motivation and, now that we've hit rock bottom, we can only get better."
"Normally, I would have taken this opportunity to give the players some time off but, between the last game and now, they've had only two days off.
"When you don't have a game to work towards for a while, you can get down to the nuts and bolts and that's what we've done.
"We've put in tons and tons of hard work and we can't wait to get back out there and prove it."
Kean concedes that the nine-point deficit already appears a significant hurdle.
Yet, when asked if he has a hard time motivating his players, the former Blackburn manager said: ""It hasn't been tough to do that because there are so many games left in the season.
"If there were only five games left and we were just beaten 5-0, then it would be very difficult, but we've only at the halfway point.
"There are teams above us that we're going to play again, some even twice, and we know historically we always finish strong.
"We've got to hold on to that. Let's just go and start again and try to win as many games as we can."
While it remains to be seen if DPMM can indeed get their season back on track and challenge for the title, Kean is absolutely certain about one thing: how important tomorrow's clash against the Stags is.
Kean said: "We've changed things around in training and flipped everything on its head to get a spark.
"Even the lads don't know which team will play. But, if we can get a win against Tampines, then the whole thing turns on its head again."