Bayern Munich coach Juergen Klinsmann is under mounting pressure as the champions prepare to take on mid-table Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga on Sunday.
Bayern, who have suffered consecutive defeats, are down in fourth spot and stand four points behind leaders Hamburg SV.
Klinsmann, a successful former Germany coach who had never worked at club level before joining Bayern last year, has had to watch his team's challenge falter in recent weeks.
After a shaky start to the season, Bayern caught up with the leaders following a successful run from October to December.
But since the winter break the champions have lost three out of four league matches and have shown no signs of the offensive creativity and defensive prowess displayed in the first stage.
Last week's 2-1 home defeat by mid-table FC Cologne prompted Bayern chiefs Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness to lay down a marker for the coach.
"This is the first year of the Klinsmann era," general manager Rummenigge said. "We have to meet our targets. We want to defend the championship... we will take stock in the summer."
Klinsmann said he was well aware of Bayern's high standards and the side's time at the top will come soon.
"We have a lot to do in the coming three months. Of course, I will be measured by this, that is clear," he said this week. "Nothing has been lost yet, not even in the Bundesliga. Now we have to get a move on. We have to get points in Bremen."
Bayern will have Italian striker Luca Toni back in the squad after he recovered from a minor foot injury but an inconsistent defence will have a tougher task against Bremen's hungry attack.
Bremen, among the pre-season favourites to win the title, have slipped to 11th but have a potent strike force and are fourth in the scoring charts with 42 goals in 21 games.
However, they have not been firing on all cylinders in recent matches.
Thomas Schaaf's team carved out 35 chances in a 1-1 draw at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Bundesliga two weeks ago and 31 in a 1-1 stalemate against visitors AC Milan in the UEFA Cup round of 32 last week.
Leaders Hamburg, on 42 points, host Wolfsburg, who have won three games in a row including last week's 2-1 victory over third-placed Hertha Berlin.
Wolfsburg's strikers Grafite and Edin Dzeko are on top form having scored 12 and 10 goals respectively.
Newcomers Hoffenheim, in second place with 40 points and ahead of Hertha on goal difference, visit Borussia Dortmund.