THEY face an uphill battle to avoid the wooden spoon, but caretaker coach Craig Deans insists the Jets need to focus on the more immediate task of ending their slide and regaining confidence.
The Jets prop up the table on nine points, four points adrift of fierce rivals Central Coast and Brisbane, and have a goal differential of -15, nearly double that of the next worst Mariners (-8).
They have lost five of the past six games and are $1.85 favourites to finish bottom for the first time since the 2016-17 season when they tallied 22 points.
On the positive side, it was a much improved performance in the 2-1 defeat to champions Sydney FC and there are still 14 games to play and 39 points available.
Prospects can change very quickly in the A-League. Wellington began the season as equal outsiders alongside the Mariners at $26 to win the championship. The Phoenix lost the opening four games but have been unbeaten in the past nine, winning six, to climb to equal third.
"Nobody wants to be in this situation but we find ourselves in it," Deans said.
"We are the only ones who can get us out of it. It takes hard work, it takes sticking together, it takes having some self belief."
The Jets are away to second-placed Melbourne City on Saturday, then travel across the Tasman to take on the Phoenix before a run of easier games against Western United (home), the Mariners (home) and Western Sydney (away).
"We are at the stage where we have to worry about each game," Deans said.
"I even broke it down to each half on the weekend. Make sure that each half we play, we win. We didn't do it in the first half, I think we did in the second, but we left ourselves too much to do.
"It will be the same this weekend. Focus on the first half and make sure that at the break we are in a position to win the game. Then, second half, we can make the adjustments we need to go on and win that half of football.
"We obviously have a lot of improvement in us and we have to work on that at every opportunity we get.
"Again, I can't fault the application of the the players or the attitude or the desire. We can turn up every day knowing that they are prepared to work hard. We need to continue working on making ourselves better.
"You need to get on with the job, back yourself ... you can talk about it for five weeks. Talking is not going to make a difference at the moment. It needs to be done at training and it needs to be done in games."
Deans, thrusted into the role after the sudden axing of Ernie Merrick a week ago, was encouraged by the performance against Sydney, but stressed a close loss was not good enough.
"We need to fix our starts to game," he said. "On the weekend, after half an hour or so, we had given up a couple of goals. We need to fix that. If we are not on a par at half-time in a game, it is difficult.
"There is not going to be an easy game. It is irrelevant who we are playing. We need to worry about ourselves and make sure we are getting better everyday day and do not accept being happy with a credible loss."
Deans, who has temporarily handed the reins of the W-league side over to assistant Ash Wilson, has reviewed the Sydney defeat and believes the shortfall was as much mental as physical.
"If we were playing any other team on the weekend we probably would have ran over the top of them in the second half," he said.
"Sydney have developed a habit of winning games and the mentality that goes with that. We have developed a mentality of not winning games and we need to change the mentality that goes with that.
"A lot of football, a lot of sport, is played between the ears. There is technical and tactical aspects to it, but confidence in sport plays a huge part. We just need to work our way out of the situation we are in and find our confidence again."
Deans confirmed that Lewis Italiano would start in goals for Glen Moss, who is sidelined for at least four weeks with a grade two calf strain, but indicated captain Nigel Boogaard (groin) was likely to miss the trip to Melbourne.
"I will have a chat to him but for me, he probably needs a whole week of training with no interruptions," he said.
Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna is putting together a short list of potential full-time replacements Merrick and is expected to start interviews later this week.
Deans, who has coached the W-League side for the past five seasons, has previously been a caretaker and twice an assistant with the A-League side.
Asked if he would be interested in the role full-time, he said: "I haven't thought about it. I just want to get the players into a position where they are winning games again. The most important thing is the club. There are a whole range of things going on and the last thing I am worried about is myself and what team I am coaching. I just want to do the best thing for the club."