Poor results and contract dramas have darkened the mood at Brisbane Roar but veteran Thomas Kristensen says they're refusing to let their A-League ambitions fall by the wayside.
The Roar's 3-2 loss to Melbourne Victory last week -- their third defeat in a row -- has left them 11 points adrift of second spot and 16 points behind runaway ladder leaders Sydney FC.
They face the Wellington Phoenix on Saturday at Westpac Stadium, a venue where they have not tasted victory in more than three years.
It looms as a must-win game, particularly with AFC Champions League commitments and a likely midweek trip to China just around the corner.
But Kristensen, who signed a two-year contract extension with the Roar on Monday, is taking an optimistic view of Brisbane's precarious situation.
"I wouldn't say desperation. We're still up there," said Kristensen.
"Of course, there's two teams who have done really well, but otherwise it's pretty close.
"The mood is a little bit down when you lose three in a row, but in terms of performance we've been doing well.
"We played the two top teams away and I think we gave them a hell of a fight in both games, but at the end of the day, we have zero points from three games and we'd rather have nine."
Kristensen and skipper Matt McKay are the only off-contract players who have recommitted to Brisbane this season.
Striker Jamie Maclaren, defenders Luke DeVere and Jade North, goalkeeper Michael Theo and attackers Dimi Petratos and Brandon Borrello are all coming to the end of their current deals and are free to talk to other clubs.
"Of course, we talk [about it] in the dressing room but I'm not going to say what goes on in the dressing room," Kristensen said.
The Roar's trip to Wellington is the first of what could be a string of overseas assignments to come over the next few weeks.
Brisbane is due to face either Filipino club Global FC or Singapore's Tampines Rovers in an AFC Champions League qualifier at Suncorp Stadium on Jan. 31.
Win that, which they would be heavily favoured to do, and they'll take on Carlos Tevez's new club Shanghai Shenhua in China in a playoff to reach the group stages -- a match that would sit between crunch A-League clashes with Sydney FC (home) and Melbourne City (away).
"We have to get used to it, that's the way it is. The next couple of months is going to be tough," Kristensen said.