Sale Sharks' director of rugby, Steve Diamond, says it's going to take something 'seriously good' for his team to be title contenders.
Sharks lost 32-22 to Premiership leaders Exeter at the AJ Bell Stadium. Their first home defeat in 10 months now puts their top four position in jeopardy.
They scored two early tries from Tom Curry and Rob Du Preez but, after a poor second half, they needed a late try from Denny Solomona to make the scoreline more respectable.
"I thought we were in the game first half," Diamond said. "It was crucial not getting anything just before half-time when we lost a line-out five metres out, something that Exeter don't do.
"I'm disappointed with our discipline again. The interpretations are difficult getting used to. There were examples tonight of us getting penalised for what was said we were allowed to do."
Sale will seek to halt their losing run when they go to Wasps on Tuesday.
"Some of them will play on Tuesday," Diamond said. "Some of them have asked me already if they can play.
"At this moment in time, I see us out the top four and we'll have to do something seriously good to get back into it."