Brett Ratten says Saturday afternoon’s “wake-up call” against Essendon is far from acceptable if St Kilda is to back up last year’s eye-catching campaign.

Poor skill errors, a lack of intensity at the contest and an easily penetrable backline eventually culminated in a 75-point defeat at the hands of the Bombers, seeing the Saints slump to 1-2 after the first three rounds.

The result follows last weekend’s 18-point loss to Melbourne in similarly disappointing circumstances.

“It was hard to watch,” Ratten said post-match.

“When you perform like that you open yourself up to criticism. You can’t have the pats on the back when you go well and (not) expect to… get a bit of a backhander when you go poorly.

“I said ‘be ready for it’, because it’s coming our way, that’s the nature of the game.”

01:54 Mins
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'It was really disappointing': Jack Billings following Round 3 loss

Jack Billings spoke to STK Media following our Round 3 loss to Essendon

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St Kilda afforded Essendon ample time and space (-107 in uncontested ball) from siren-to-siren, compounded by a noticeable lack of pressure around the ground.

It allowed the Bombers to waltz into attack and ram home 22 majors, with Ratten admitting his side “didn’t even challenge (Essendon) defensively” across the board.

“I think everyone was embarrassed and everyone should be,” Ratten said.

“Maybe tonight we lost a bit of trust and faith in each other.

But we can’t go and hide. We’ve got to be together. The only way we can get through a performance like that is to get closer, and maybe to be a bit more honest.

- Brett Ratten

St Kilda’s defensive system will be one key area to be thoroughly examined and retuned leading into a challenging stretch of games against top-four sides West Coast, Richmond and Port Adelaide.

The Saints conceded 33 shots on goal – 22 of which resulted in opposition majors – and last week against Melbourne leaked 31 scoring opportunities.

Compare that to last year’s most costly outing at the hands of Geelong, which sat at just 23.

“If we’re going to do that each week, we’re going to have to kick 30 goals which is not the game that we want to be involved in,” Ratten said.

“We need to get back to what’s made us a solid team – not a good team, or a great team or anything like that, just a solid team – in the competition.

“It is early doors, and what it does do is (tell you) a bit about your group, where you go from here and how you respond.

“We need to get back to our way of playing, because that wasn’t acceptable.”

02:09 Mins
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RD3 | Dare Coach's Message

Senior Coach Brett Ratten's message to the fans following our Round 3 loss to Essendon

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