St Kilda coach Alan Richardson wouldn't be drawn on his prospects of remaining in the job after the Saints fell short against Geelong, leaving their AFL finals hopes in tatters.
Saturday night's 12.12 (84) to 8.9 (57) defeat at GMHBA Stadium has left the Saints 15th on the ladder and could prove fatal to Richardson's tenure.
Faced with the daunting task of taking on the ladder-leaders at their home fortress, the Saints fought valiantly and led during the second quarter.
But the Cats wrestled the game back onto their terms after halftime, Gary Ablett snagging two late goals in quick succession to put the result beyond doubt.
While the Saints averted what had loomed as a potential blowout, four straight losses to Brisbane, Richmond, North Melbourne and now Geelong have left Richardson's position virtually untenable.
St Kilda football boss Simon Lethlean declared last month the Saints needed to show clear improvement for Richardson to remain coach beyond this season, stressing that this meant beating teams above them on the ladder.
In the past 11 rounds, the Saints have won just twice - against lowly Gold Coast and Carlton.
Richardson on Saturday night brushed aside questions about his future, saying it was his job to compartmentalise any concerns about his own security.
"I don't even think about it," he said.
"We've got to make sure we continue to drive to the end of the year.
"It's looking less likely now that we play finals so we can either completely fall away and feel sorry for ourselves or we can understand that we represent a lot of people.
"This club means so much to so many people. We can give that the respect that it should be (given) by the way that we play. That'll be my focus."
Saints fans at least got a glimpse of a brighter future with ruckman Rowan Marshall (31 hitouts, 21 disposals and a goal) among St Kilda's best while fellow youngsters Hunter Clark, Ben Long and Callum Wilkie were also impressive.
Richardson's hopes of a stay of execution could rest upon the fact the Saints at least matched it with the Cats for most of the game.
"(Geelong), I think we'd all acknowledge, is if not the flag favourite then close to it," he said.
"Their best footy is probably better than anyone else's in my opinion. They play this ground pretty well, they have a lot of support.
"So today was better."
Australian Associated Press