Sunderland manager Steve Bruce was critical of his side's attitude and defending after a 2-0 defeat at Everton extended their run to just one win in 13 Barclays Premier League matches.
Goals from Tim Cahill and on-loan Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan - his first for Everton - settled the match in the opening 18 minutes.
Their previous league match was a 7-2 hammering at Chelsea and the Black Cats have now conceded 18 goals in their last six top-flight fixtures.
"I seem to be like a long-playing record at the minute but it is too easy the number of goals we give away," said Bruce.
"They didn't have to do much for the goals today. A cross into our box and we haven't picked Cahill up.
"I'm not going to make any excuses. Two kicks up the pitch have cost us and we haven't defended it anywhere near the way we should do.
"That has been our Achilles heel of late. We just haven't - or can't - defend properly.
"The first half an hour was nowhere near the standard of what we need to be in the Premier League.
"We have to be a bit more resilient than that. We have to show better attitude than what we showed."
Sunderland, three points above the relegation zone, now face Stoke and Wigan in successive games at the Stadium of Light and Bruce believes they have to win to turn their campaign around.
"We have been on an awful run but we have got back-to-back home games which will define our season," he added.
"We must get results in these games and if we do then we are capable."
By contrast Everton are now ninth in the table and unbeaten in their last eight league matches.
Manager David Moyes felt their FA Cup exit to Birmingham on Saturday had motivated his side.
"I think we all wanted to get the FA Cup defeat out of our system quickly and I thought they did that, going about their jobs in the right way and trying to do the right things," he said.
"I thought we did the work in the first half which obviously made things a lot easier.
"Two-nil is a difficult score because if the opposition get a goal you find yourself under pressure.
"We missed a couple of chances to make it 3-0 but it was a good job.
"To their credit Sunderland came back into it but it was only in the last 15 minutes."
The Everton boss was also pleased to see Donovan claim his first goal for the club, having joined on a short-term loan from Major League Soccer side Los Angeles Galaxy.
Donovan would have doubled his tally had George McCartney not cleared his shot, which had seemed destined for the net, just a few yards off the line.
"The games he started were Arsenal and Manchester City, two of the better teams in the country, and I thought he played really well in those games," added Moyes.
"He has a great goalscoring record in America - I think it is one in two - and has a great record for the national team.
"He has not had many chances in those games but tonight he got his first one and he was a bit unlucky not to get a second with it cleared off the line.
"If he can add us a goal or two that will be great."