Following a 1-0 defeat at home to Livingston and then Thursday’s catastrophic 7-0 hammering by AZ Alkmaar in Europe, United conceded a goal to their former striker Lawrence Shankland less than a minute into their cinch Premiership encounter.
Further Hearts goals from Barrie McKay, Jorge Grant and Josh Ginnelly capped off a grim week for the Terrors, who scored a consolation penalty via Steven Fletcher.
“Irrespective of what went previously, you have to start games better than that,” said Ross. “When one game begins, the other game is forgotten about. You have to give yourself a platform to win football matches and we didn't do that by not doing the fundamentals of the game in terms of matching runs, being physical and putting contact on people in the first 45 seconds, which is not great.
“We were okay towards the end of the first half but no better than that. I don't want to sugar-coat it because we should be better than 'okay'. We huffed and puffed a little bit and had some half-chances but overall we were nowhere near the level we should be at and need to be at.
“It's not so much the manner of the goals, it's the overall intensity about our play. You need to have a physicality and aggression but that doesn't mean kicking people. We've not had enough energy about our play so we've not played well the last two games. Nothing other than that. When you don't play well you get poor results.”
Despite what has been a challenging and eye-opening week for Ross, the former Hibs and Sunderland manager does not plan to reinforce his squad and will instead work with the players already at his disposal.
“I've done this long enough now to learn not to be knee-jerk,” added Ross. “We've had a chastening four days in particular. Prior to that, we'd had a relatively positive start. We were good down at Kilmarnock and good against AZ at home. We've had an extreme in that period. Right now, it's not about looking at needing players in, it's more about looking at how I get more out of the players we have.”