Cologne coach Frank Schafer says his side's goal now must be to defend their current 16th place in the Bundesliga and prepare for a play-off with the side who finish third in the second division.
That could be local rivals Fortuna Dusseldorf, but Schafer feels that is his team's best shot at staying in the top flight after Sunday's 3-0 defeat at Borussia Monchengladbach left them four points behind 15th-placed Augsburg with three games of the season remaining.
"We have got to concern ourselves with the play-off, which is an important option after this game,'' said Schafer, who took over from Stale Solbakken last week, but was unable to steady the ship in his first game in charge. "It is going to be decisive that we don't collapse now.''
Hertha Berlin are just one point adrift of Cologne in an automatic relegation berth and Schafer's priority is to keep them behind over the remaining three games.
"We have our destiny in our own hands,'' he added.
Gladbach coach Lucien Favre admitted his team's victory was a touch flattering, although he said they did enough to deserve the points.
"Three-nil sounds like a clear result, but it was not as easy as you would think,'' he said. "Two of our goals came from set-pieces. Nevertheless, it was a good performance and we fully deserved the win.''