At the end of the season, will Colchester United reflect on their home defeat to Barnet as the point where their play-off ambitions were put to bed?

Only time will tell but it will certainly now take a big effort from the U’s in their remaining 11 games to clinch a top-seven spot in League Two, following their hugely disappointing 1-0 defeat.

Back to back losses against sides battling relegation from League Two mean it is now a tall order for John McGreal’s side to achieve their main ambition this season – promotion.

They are now seven points adrift of the play-off places, with some sides above them having played fewer games.

And although they take on another lowly side in Morecambe on Saturday, even a win there might not be enough especially given the calibre of opposition they face between now and the end of the season, which culminates in a trip to play promotion-hopefuls Exeter City.

Even McGreal could not put his finger on what went wrong for his team against Barnet, when asked about why they had so badly under-performed at home against a side six points adrift of safety, even after their win at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

“There weren’t any positives to come out of it and I’m not going to dress it up,” said the U’s boss, who made no excuses for his side’s drab display.

After a superb December which saw a haul of 11 points and league monthly award nominations for both McGreal and leading scorer Sammie Szmodics, there is no question that it has been a frustrating 2018.

Szmodics’ on-going back problem has certainly not helped Colchester’s cause over the last two months.

Nevertheless, a measly ten points from a possible 30 in the first two months of the calendar year is a very disappointing return, especially given their form in the final weeks of 2017.

No points – and no goals – from two games against teams near the foot of the table is also pretty depressing.

Indeed, it could be argued that in those two matches against Crewe and Barnet, you could count on one hand the number of significant saves their respective goalkeepers have had to make – and have fingers to spare.

As McGreal said after the Barnet defeat, there are some ‘freaky’ results in the division and there will be more between now and the end of the season.

The U’s will now need to pull one or two of those off themselves in the final two months of the season against sides residing in the top seven, if they are to have any chance of achieving their main target.

Plenty of talking took place in the aftermath of the Barnet defeat - both in public and private.

On the plus side, at least McGreal has the experience of last season leading his side agonisingly close to the play-offs, falling narrowly short on the final day despite beating Yeovil Town.

The month of March promises to be pivotal to their chances and now the U's players must prove to everyone that they can rescue this faltering campaign – and fast.