Sydney FC are winless in four A-League matches after an erratic and feisty goalless draw with Wellington underscored by wider fan discontent.
Both teams were far from their best in front of a diminished 9253-strong crowd at Allianz Stadium on Thursday night, which left the Phoenix without a victory in four straight away fixtures.
Foul after foul disrupted the rhythm of play - Sydney conceded 29 to Wellington's 14 - as Sky Blues captain Alex Brosque, himself accused of theatrics for two perceived dives, grew increasingly frustrated with referee Chris Beath.
Despite signalling he might start fresh legs after the weekend's sweltering battle in Perth, coach Graham Arnold fielded an unchanged line-up.
It was perhaps explanation for why the Phoenix pulled most of the midfield strings, as Roly Bonevacia continued his exercise of attracting multiple opponents before trying to escape.
But there was always the feeling Sydney would be the side to make good in the front third, maybe because of their 15 shots to their foes' six - or maybe due to Filip Holosko's standout display on the right wing.
Twelve minutes in, the Slovakian international pounced on a defensive error at the edge of the box and curled the ball slightly wide of goal.
Ten minutes later, he chipped a beautiful cross into the path of an onrushing Brosque, who sent it out for a corner.
It was a moment mirrored in the second half when Holosko broke away again and slipped the ball into space in the penalty area, only for the skipper to hook it wide of a beckoning goal.
Midway through the cramped proceedings, a smaller-than-usual gathering of Sydney's The Cove supporters made clear their feelings about Sunday's News Corp Australia article which named almost 200 people banned from matches.
"You can name us, try and shame us, but you'll never break us," read the first of the group's banners, while another read "FFA standing silent as our rights are trampled" in a reference to Football Federation Australia's belated response this week.
The match suddenly opened up in the second half with the introduction of Brandon O'Neill, Andrew Hoole and Matt Simon, as chances were squandered and Shane Smeltz was handed a yellow card for a challenge on former teammate Andrew Durante.
Roy Krishna penetrated the Sky Blues' backline but couldn't find Bonevacia in the box.
But the home side should have claimed the match seven minutes from time when Brosque hit the post and the ball bounced painfully across the face of goal.