Steve Burr described his side's first-half performance as 'unacceptable' after Chester FC lost 2-0 at home to Macclesfield Town.
Hopes the Blues could use the pre-Christmas win against Torquay United as a springboard were banished with an own goal from Ian Sharps and a Kristian Dennis spot kick giving the visitors a comfortable lead at the interval.
Macc, who were missing key men Danny Whitaker and Paul Lewis, eased up following the restart and sought to protect a lead that never really looked in danger despite Chester, who should in theory have been the fresher team after not playing on Boxing Day, having the greater share of possession.
Burr said afterwards: "I'm very disappointed with that especially with the break that we had and maybe that didn't help us but that was just unacceptable in the first-half.
"The two goals we've conceded are very sloppy. The penalty decision maybe that's a talking point in itself and the first one could have gone anywhere but it's flown straight over Jon Worsnop.
"Macc were quicker to the ball in the first-half and knocking it about better. Our passing wasn't great in the first-half at all.
"We played it out of some tight areas and then when we got into Macc's half we gave the ball away too cheaply and then we were back defending so it was very frustrating."
Chester can feel hard done to over Macclesfield's opener as Sharps, who was substituted at half-time, diverted a cross from the excellent Danny Rowe into his own net in the 25th minute.
And the Blues were unhappy with referee Ian Hussin's decision to award the visitors a spot kick six minutes later when Ben Heneghan was penalised for shirt pulling.
Ryan Lloyd and Danny Hattersley could have started a comeback after the break but even so Burr was honest enough to admit his side were second best and the performance left him questioning the commitment and desire of his players.
Burr said: "The initial thing was where they've tried to block Ben off from marking Jack Sampson and he's sort of got hold of his shirt and tugged it slightly.
"How many times do you see the referee going over to them and saying 'cut it out' but he's decided to give a penalty. You see decisions like that and if we're doing that then show me a game where there's not going to be four or five penalties.
"We probably won't see a penalty given against us like that again this season but it was given and it gave us a mountain to climb.
"After the last home game against Torquay where you think that's great and we can go again with that same XI and same subs and expect the same kind of performance, and then again we've taken two steps backwards.
"Ryan Lloyd and Danny Hattersley have had great chances to score and they didn't and that summed the day up for us.
"I'm disappointed after the way we went about the Torquay game looking at the shape of the team but it's not so much the shape, it's more the commitment of the players to have that desire to go out there whatever formation you play to close people down, win your individual battles and come out on top and we didn't do that particularly in the first-half.
"There were too many who were five out of 10s and we’re a squad that need eight out of 10s to compete at this level.
"We can’t get by with even three players being off, we need everybody to be at it and I think that’s showed this season. We have all got to be eight out of 10s if we’re going to get results in this division and if we don’t then you’ve seen already that we don’t get results."