MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 03: Jack Steele and his Saints team mates look dejected after losing the round 3 AFL match between the Essendon Bombers and the St Kilda Saints at Marvel Stadium on April 03, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Despite a first round upset away win over the GWS Giants, St Kilda's start to 2021 has been anything but inspiring, with recent losses to Melbourne and Essendon triggering an outpouring of discontent amongst the league's longest suffering fanbase.

Former captain, Nick Riewoldt, slammed his old club's Round 3 loss to the Bombers on Saturday, stating the Saints' issues were based on a lack of effort, rather than the the playing group or their system.

“It was an immature performance and it just lacked effort. Sometimes it‘s that simple. People want to ask the question, what went wrong? All of the (bad) stats are effort stats," he told FOX FOOTY's On The Couch, highlighting pressure rating (-34 differential) and tackle efficiency (50%) as some of the key metrics the Saints failed to execute on Saturday night.

“Absolutely I would (take a scalp at selection). Outside of Jack Steele and Tim Membrey at the weekend, it’s pretty difficult to actually go and individualise (anyone in particular)."

2020 Trevor Barker medallist, Steele has been St Kilda's best performer over the last few weeks, with 35 disposals to go along with his seven clearances and  goal, backing up his three-goal game as the Saints' most effective player against the Demons two weeks ago.

With calls for widespread changes at the selection table, co-captain Steele dismissed the idea.

“I don’t necessarily think that needs to happen. I think we need to be honest with ourselves,” Steele told saints.com.au.

“We’ve had some pretty harsh open and honest conversations in the last couple of days about our previous two performances and the effort we’ve shown.

“We’re going to hold blokes accountable."

With St Kilda facing three of the league's toughest outfits over the next few weeks - West Coast, Richmond and Port Adelaide - the club is under pressure from fans to get their season back on track before it's too late.

While midfielder Jade Gresham will miss the rest of the season with an Achilles injury suffered in the first half against the Bombers, there is good news on the way for the struggling Saints, with ruck duo Rowan Marshall and Paddy Ryder due to return in the coming weeks.

Marshall, in particular, spent the majority of three quarters in the ruck for the Sandringham Zebras in a VFL practice match against Essendon on the weekend, while veteran Ryder spent 26 days away from the club after being granted personal leave to spend time with his family and elders in South Australia.

The Saints are set to face West Coast at Marvel Stadium on Saturday in hope of doubling their current premiership points tally.