Blackburn manager Paul Ince has told his players to "stand up and be counted'' in the coming weeks after suddenly finding themselves in the relegation zone.
With only three points taken from a possible 21, these are troubled times for Ince in his maiden season at Ewood Park. Blackburn had a great chance to build on Chris Samba's opening goal in first half stoppage time but instead they fell apart.
Kenwyne Jones and Djibril Cisse found the target to propel Sunderland up the table and give them revenge for their Carling Cup defeat in midweek
Ince was alarmed at the way his side collapsed to a 2-1 defeat.
He said: "We just had a great opportunity after winning on Wednesday. I played a full strength side but the majority of them let me down. Samba was outstanding and Roque (Santa Cruz) was out of this world. The others have got to stand up and be counted.
"They have to realise they are in a dogfight and need to have that survival instinct about them. The disappointing thing is we capitulated when it went to 1-1. We did not have any leaders or characters to get us back together.
"It can't always come from the staff and the management, it has got to come from them. They are the ones out there.''
Samba's goal came from a powerful header but Blackburn have failed to win in seven league games and face successive away matches at Tottenham and Portsmouth.
Ince is refusing to panic after arriving in the summer from MK Dons, the club he led to promotion from League Two.
He said: "We know where we are now. There is a long way to go and I don't want to go over the top at the moment.
"We are under no illusions. We have not spent the most money in this league, probably the second lowest. We are changing things at the club but it will take time.''