Hull manager Steve Bruce admitted his team’s 4-0 defeat at fellow promotion challengers Derby was “bordering on the ridiculous.”
Bruce was left shocked and disappointed after his team crashed to their heaviest league defeat of the season as Derby equalled their biggest win of the campaign.
The Hull boss, whose side are now seven points adrift of the automatic promotion places, said: “On a big stage tonight, we haven’t performed at all to the level I’m used to seeing.
“In a big top of the table clash to make the mistakes and errors we made was just bordering on the ridiculous.
“That disappoints me and surprises me because the reason we are at the top end of the league is our ability to defend and defend properly and although there was nothing in it up until the first goal, after that we were all over the place.”
Hull had looked comfortable until the 29th minute when Andrew Robertson’s unfortunate slip out on the left allowed Craig Bryson to race away and cross for Chris Martin to hit a post before Bradley Johnson swept the rebound in.
There was nothing fortunate about the second in the 38th minute which was finished first time by Johnson from 10 yards after a clever interchange of passes between Johnny Russell and former Hull winger Tom Ince.
Hull’s hopes of getting back in the game were dealt a big blow in the 55th minute when Moses Odubajo was shown a red card for bringing down Ince just outside the box and Derby made the most of their numerical advantage to add two more goals in the last six minutes through Martin and Bryson.
Bruce added: “I’ve said there has been nothing wrong with the performances, we just haven’t scored, but tonight there was something wrong with the performance. I expected us to be better than that tonight.
“The level of where we were was nowhere near what we are capable of. Right in the thick of it, I expected us to show a bit more resilience and gumption that we showed tonight.”
Derby head coach Darren Wassall felt it was easily his side’s best display of the campaign as they moved to within two points of their opponents.
He said: “We were bitterly disappointed on Saturday with the result at Cardiff and we asked for a reaction from the players and they certainly gave us one tonight.
“We are delighted with the performance and there was a steely determination tonight, we played with loads of energy on the front foot and they all responded.
“I think that was our best performance of the season so far by a country mile but I’m not getting carried away at all. Our feet are on the ground and we are making sure we are right for Saturday.
“We need to get some consistency, we’ve proven that we are a very good side, now we’ve got to prove we can do that week in, week out, game in and game out because good teams can do it every single week.”