David Moyes has warned Sunderland they are likely to find themselves in yet another Premier League relegation battle after a demoralising start to the new season.
Two games and two defeats into the campaign, the Black Cats are pointless after yesterday's 2-1 home defeat by derby rivals Middlesbrough, and the Scot was pulling no punches as he assessed his injury-hit squad's prospects.
Asked what his response would be to fans who fear another survival scrap, Moyes said: "Well, they would probably be right because that's where they've been every other year for the last four years, so why would it suddenly change?
"I think it will be, I don't think you can hide the facts, that will be the case, yes. People will be flat because they are hoping that something is going to dramatically change - it can't dramatically change, it can't."
Moyes went into the game having already lost central defender Younes Kaboul to Watford and facing a battle to hang on to Everton target Lamine Kone, who was missing with a back injury.
To make matters worse, skipper John O'Shea succumbed to a groin problem, which could yet have repercussions for Ireland as they prepare to launch their World Cup qualifying campaign, in between the two first-half Cristhian Stuani goals which ultimately handed Boro the points.
Moyes added: "What we have got, we are having to add to it with young players as well as one or two experienced players, and we have got to try to get the balance right and obviously choose and get the right players at the right price in the transfer market."