Darren Ferguson says it is clear Doncaster Rovers still have a long way to go to secure their League One survival this season.
But he insists they can take a considerable step forward if they can beat Fleetwood Town this weekend.
Rovers slumped to a 4-2 defeat at Walsall on Tuesday night with arguably their worst performance of the season.
The result saw the Saddlers leapfrog Rovers in the table and leave them just five points clear of the division’s bottom four.
Saturday brings Fleetwood to the Keepmoat, a side sitting three points behind Rovers but with two games in hand.
And Ferguson says a failure to get the right result for his side would drag them deep into a relegation dogfight.
“We’ve had a big week with three games and it is huge because it can go one way or another,” Ferguson told the Free Press.
“If you pick up the right results then you move up the table. Whereas all we seem to be talking about now is moving away from that danger zone.
“If you don’t get the right results then quite quickly you can be in it.
“That’s the way it is.
“And if we don’t get the right result on Saturday, the way it’s looking, we would be in it, amongst a lot of other teams.
“Walsall was a huge disappointment for me.
“Some of the stuff I saw was a huge reminder that we’ve still got a long way to go this season.
“But we knew that any way.”
The Rovers boss remains confident his side will not be embroiled in a relegation dogfight.
The chief factor in that belief is the fighting spirit Rovers have shown on plenty of occasions this season – Tuesday night not withstanding – which helps to override disappointing performances, as it did in the draw with Charlton Athletic last weekend.
Ferguson said: “Performances haven’t been great recently but you get that through the season where we’ve managed to dig in and scrap points out.
“We’ve managed not to lose many games but at Walsall we lost comfortably.
“It’s full responsibility in terms of the manager but it’s hard to analyse that performance in terms of the way we wanted to play.
“It’s hard when players do certain things that have nothing to do with, basically, the way we were set up.”
Ferguson revealed he did not want to risk Mathieu Baudry by having him involved on Tuesday night after only one full training session on his recovery from a hamstring problem.
Baudry will be involved against Fleetwood and Ferguson has suggested he will make changes in reaction to the performance at the Bescot Stadium.