Melbourne City skipper Bruno Fornaroli believes his team's recent downturn in the Hyundai A-League is linked to them winning the Westfield FFA Cup Final last month.
What's more, the Uruguayan talisman has issued a warning to his team: they cannot drop any more points at home.
City has had two draws and a loss since clinching the club’s first piece of silverware in the FFA Cup decider against Sydney FC on November 30.
It’s seen them drop to fourth on the ladder and lose touch with the league-leading Sky Blues.
John van ‘t Schip gave his fatigued squad three days off after the derby loss to recharge.
“I think maybe this break closes the FFA Cup [period] and makes us start to think about the league. It’s a good break for us, everyone stays with their family and friends so it’s great,” Fornaroli told reporters on Thursday.
“It’s normal when you win something after a lot of pressure, its normal sometime for the players to feel this way, to go down a little bit.
“Of course, we have to [think about the Perth game on December 27]. It’s a great moment playing at home again and here we can’t lose points…we need to win.
“We know we can’t lose points, because of this nine point [gap to Sydney FC]. For us it’s important to not lose more points here at home.”
While they have plenty of work to do to catch the Sky Blues, the Uruguayan feels the gap can be closed and belief is still strong amongst City’s squad.
All of City’s next six matches are against sides below them on the Hyundai A-League ladder, giving them the chance to make up ground if they can string some wins together.
Fornaroli’s goals, as ever, will be crucial to making that happen.
He has netted seven times so far this campaign and his partnership with Caltex Socceroos veteran Tim Cahill is continuing to take shape.
Van ‘t Schip is still tinkering with a way to get the most out of the star duo, even deploying Fornaroli a little deeper in a No.10 role in the derby.
"It's a little bit different to me but I think I can play there. To help the team, I don't care, I can play goalkeeper," Fornaroli said with a smile.
"Maybe now in the last game I start No.10 but in the other games we change a lot."All the games, we change. Timmy [Cahill] sometimes goes No.9 and I help Timmy and Timmy helps me. We try to find the solution for [each] game."