IT was a brave sentiment for Nigel Pearson to take responsibility for this 5-0 humiliation.

Pearson's post-match interviews showed plenty more savvy and experience than displayed on the pitch.

He was embarrassed and rightly warned relegation was a possibility with more performances like this.

But he pulled that old trick that only the bravest managers do of trying to take the pressure off the players by accepting full responsibility himself.

It shows broad shoulders and strength.

However, Saints fans who have been watching over the past few months, weeks - even years - will not hold him responsible for the position the club and the team are in.

This was the third time Saints have shipped five goals away from home this season, and Pearson wasn't here for the previous two.

Saints have the worst defensive record in the division. Most of the damage was done before Pearson arrived.

The team are currently two points from the Championship drop zone, a million miles off the club's Premiership ambitions.

Pearson has only been here a matter of weeks.

You can understand why Pearson is doing what he is doing, and you have to admire him for it.

But the problems displayed at Hull are hardly all of his making.

The weekend saw a dreadful performance from Saints. Unlike the other two times they have let in five away this season, this was every bit deserved.

The scoreline was perfectly fair.

Saints never competed, never looked to match Hull in heart.

They were appalling and, if they continue like this, relegation is not just possible but inevitable.

The next game, against Coventry at St Mary's, has become truly massive.

Just like Leicester was, win and Saints can get themselves some breathing space.

A draw would not be great.

A defeat is unthinkable and means Saints will be up against it to avoid League One football.

Quite how Pearson picks his players up this week is unclear.

What he must try and do is just to get them to forget about this game, write it off as one that's gone.

It's all about the Coventry match and the players have to go out and prove that they want to stay in this league.

It's not a time for weak hearts but to stand up and be counted.

There will be no hiding place and, while the players can rest assured honest mistakes will be tolerated, a lack of passion will not.

And heart, with a bit of extra quality, might well be enough in this relegation scrap.

Saints never really got to grips with Hull's game plan.

The home side kept the ball well and pushed Saints back. As soon as Saints moved up, they dumped high balls in behind where Frazier Campbell's pace was too much for them to handle.

It was not just defensive problems because, in truth, it was team failings that brought about the result.

The midfield was often non-existent and the lack of pace in attack was worrying.

Saints had decent chances either side of Hull's opener, David McGoldrick and Stern John both finding Bo Myhill after balls from Jason Euell.

But that opening goal came after just seven minutes, a long ball from Dean Marney seeing Campbell spin, sprint clear and finish past the advancing Michael Poke.

For much of the rest of the first half, Saints were battered by Hull but the fact they held on to go in just one down at the break made you think it might just be their day.

If they could come out fighting with an improved second half display, there might just be something there for them.

Sadly they came out worse - much worse.

It was 2-0 ten minutes after the restart, Henrik Pedersen lashing home from eight yards after Saints failed to clear a long throw that bounced around in the area.

The third, just a minute later, was equally as woeful, this time Michael Turner powering home a free header from a free-kick.

Poke was left helpless on 68 minutes when Dean Marney fired in a fierce low shot from 25 yards that rocketed into the bottom corner.

After Marney had hit the post and Euell had forced Myhill into a good stop, Hull rounded off the misery with a fifth in injury time, Poke getting fingertips to Bryan Hughes' curling shot but unable to do any more than turn it into the top corner.

You'd be tempted to ask how things can get much worse.

But we all know the answer and it's becoming ever more real.