Grant McCann feels his Doncaster Rovers squad have experienced something of a reality check with recent results.
But the Rovers boss is convinced it has given the players fresh drive as they prepare to visit AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.
Draws against Scunthorpe United and Charlton Athletic sandwiched defeat at Shrewsbury Town, a run which has seen the erosion of what was a healthy cushion inside League One’s top six.
As he prepares to travel to face the division’s bottom side, McCann says there has been a noticeable spring in the step of his players in training over the last few days.
“I sense this group have got the bit between their teeth this week and they’re wanting to respond to the two draws and defeat they’ve had,” he said.
“I think it’s almost a bit of a reality check.
“You can’t just expect things to happen, you’ve got to earn it.
“I think the group understands that.
“But also they know they probably would have taken it if you had offered them at the start of the season sixth place with 12 games to go and a chance to be in and around it during the run-in.
“I’ve no doubt or hesitation about that, I think we will be.
"We’ve just got to get back to scoring when we get those spells in games, like we have shown for most of the season.
McCann himself admits he personally would not have been so eager to accept the hypothetical offer of sixth place and feels there is an acceptance among his side that they should be better placed by this point.
“I would always want more,” he said.
“If I look back on the season, the amount of games we’ve had in the bag and let slip, or we haven’t taken the chances in games when we’ve showed how good we can be.
“I think the group know that we can be better than this and they’ve got 12 games to show that.”
On loan Swansea City full back Aaron Lewis has been called up by Wales U21 for a training camp between March 19 and 22.
Tom Anderson will be available to face Wimbledon this weekend after completing his recovery process for a concussion.