Gary Rowett described Derby County’s performance as “unacceptable” after they were beaten 3-1 by Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium.
The Rams responded well to get themselves back into the game after Liam Boyce gave the home side the lead, with David Nugent heading home for his first goal since December.
Luke Murphy restored the lead on the stroke of half-time, though, before Lucas Akins secured the points from close range.
It means that Derby have lost back-to-back league games for the first time this season, and Rowett was far from pleased with the display.
He told RamsTV: “I don’t want to take anything away from Burton, but my first thought was that it was an embarrassing defeat.
“That is a little bit unfair on them because they worked harder than us and they wanted to win the game more than us.
“If you look at every 50/50 challenge, they came out with the ball. They ran with more intent and they looked like a team that had something to play for.
“In the first-half, we were strolling around and we gave two balls away, and they scored twice. We give the ball away for the third as well, and you can’t give any team a head start in this division.”
Rowett admitted that he could understand the frustration of the fans after a difficult afternoon, and he challenged his players to put things right in the coming weeks.
He said: “I’m not surprised that the fans were disappointed and I’m not surprised that the fans have voiced their discontent.
“If I was in there, I would have done exactly the same because it isn’t acceptable.
“Whenever we have had this disappointment, I mention that we have an unbelievable opportunity.
“What I have said to the players is that in my opinion, we don’t look like we’re hungry enough to seize the opportunity, so they have to prove me and everybody wrong.
“After the Sunderland result we won the next two games, and we have to do the same again.
“It looks like we are going to have to do it the hard way.”