David Moyes claims Sunderland's winless start to the season now means every game they go into is like a cup final.
The Black Cats went down 2-0 to Stoke on Saturday, leaving them with just two points from their opening eight Premier League contests, and Moyes' men are staring at another long season in the lower reaches of the division.
The pattern of recent campaigns has seen the club emerge from relegation battles with their top-flight status intact thanks to late-season surges, yet Moyes concedes that their worrying run of form has to pick up soon with a gap already beginning to develop between themselves and safety.
"Every game for us now is a big game, we're nearly in a must-win situation in every game we go into now," the manager told reporters.
"There's nearly an individual cup final (in every game), we have to try and win them between now and the end of the season."
The Scot believes the key to surviving such testing times lies with experienced campaigners, many of whom he was without at the bet365 Stadium because of injury.
"You need players with experience and players who have been there and done it more often because I think they can see through and understand the nature of where you are," Moyes claimed.
"We had Didier (Ndong), Paddy (McNair), even Jordan (Pickford), Javier Manquillo, Duncan Watmore, that's a lot of young players in the team.
"The choice was to get young players because I hope they'll get better and eventually be really good players but you try not to use them all in one hit if you can do so. I just think we're probably missing a little bit more experience."