The Phoenix fell to another A-League defeat with the Central Coast Mariners claiming a 1-0 win in Wellington today.
The Central Coast's Daniel McBreen struck the lone goal of the match with 20 minutes remaining to consign Ricki Herbert's side to a third straight defeat.
The loss will hurt the hosts, who, for much of the game showed plenty of enterprise but were unable to crack the Mariners tight defence.
McBreen's score continued his recent purple patch of form after he nailed a hat-trick in last week's demolition job of Sydney FC, the striker on hand to link with Tom Rogic and beat Wellington keeper Mark Paston.
The Phoenix were unable to have a shot on target all game while the visitors forced Paston to work hard to make three saves.
Despite the result, the Phoenix played with an improved attitude, showing an energy and enthusiasm that was absent from their last outing against Melbourne.
Belgian striker Stein Huysegems put himself in a likely position in the first half but floated it high; Paul Ifill one of the other few to show some initiative with the ball.
Ben Sigmund offered his trademark leadership and composure in his first game back from suspension but the Phoenix attack lacked the creativity to trouble the visitors.
It leaves the Phoenix on five points from their six games to wallow in ninth spot while Central Coast jumps to the top of the the competition ladder on 13 points.
For the Phoenix, their season gets a whole lot tougher with difficult away games against Newcastle and Perth to come.
The All Whites friendly against China on Thursday is an added distraction for Herbert and six of his men who will travel to Shanghai before liaising with the rest of the squad in Newcastle next Sunday.
How the side respond to today's disappointment and manage what will be a difficult and unsettled week will prove crucial to their hopes of notching just their second win of the season.