Melbourne City might have shared the spoils with Melbourne Victory in Saturday night's A-League derby but their performances leaves them no closer to a winning formula.
And with three defenders out next weekend for the visit of ladder leaders Perth Glory, there's no respite for manager Warren Joyce.
City could scarcely have hoped for a more fortuitous start at Marvel Stadium, with Georg Niedermeier's dismissal and penalty after just 16 minutes gifting them an advantage on the scoreboard and the pitch.
Rather than run on with the match, City made heavy weather of Victory and had to settle for a 1-1 draw after Kosta Barbarouses' equaliser against the grain.
Before the break, they failed to cash in on a wobbly Victory defence.
After half-time, they couldn't find a way through Kevin Muscat's side, rejuvenated by the equaliser.
Damningly, from Niedermeier's dismissal to full-time, City hit the bar twice but failed to test Lawrence Thomas once.
Joyce put the onus on his players to find routes to goal.
"It's not through lack of trying," he said.
"But then when you create overloads you'd got to do something. You've got to go past people.
"We've had efforts at goal in the first half. Good chances as well.
"The longer it goes on, the deeper they go."
Joyce sidestepped the issue of his future at the club, saying "that question is for somebody else".
With premiers-in-waiting Perth visiting next week followed by a trip to bogey side Sydney FC, the storm could intensify before subsiding.
Glory's visit is made harder by defensive unavailabilities.
Joyce won't be able to call on suspended duo Bart Schenkeveld or Ritchie De Laet due to yellow card accumulation, while Harrison Delbridge is injured.
"It's frustrating losing them. Certainly De Laet's wasn't a booking and the other one's a rash decision (by Schenkeveld)," he said.
The bright spot could be Maclaren, the first City player since W-League forward Marianna Tabain in 2015 to score in their first three games for the club.
Joyce said City could only improve as his midfield got used to Maclaren's darting runs.
"He's a good pro and a good lad," Joyce said.
"Particularly with forward-minded players you've got to have understanding because eye contact and movements get you that extra half-yard in the box or get you to the ball in good areas."
"You've got to build that up.|"
Australian Associated Press