Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder admits his side are now outsiders to reach the Aviva Premiership top four after a third defeat in their last four league games at Franklin's Gardens.
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Two Jonny May tries gave Gloucester a 27-11 win and after going out of the Heineken Cup and LV= Cup at the group stages Northampton have now dropped to sixth in the Premiership.
Northampton have reached three successive Premiership semi-finals, but Mallinder concedes they now face an uphill struggle to make it four.
He said: "We are certainly outsiders for the top four now, but we still have got a chance. Today was not good enough and if we play like that there is no chance of getting in the top four. Yet when we function we are a measure for anybody.
"Attacking-wise we were poor today and on the flipside we conceded two very soft tries, direct from a lineout and then turnover ball when we were in attack, that is quite demoralising.
"It is disappointing, we have got a good squad of players but we are playing without confidence at the moment.
"We have got some good backs in there, but they are not functioning as well as they can do. We, as coaches and players, have got to accept we are not on top of our game and we have got to improve.
"We have got our foundations with the set-piece working well, and defensively we did a lot of good work. We have got to be sharper in attack.
"They were putting a lot of pressure on our first receiver and we have got to be smart enough to have alternatives. We should have been looking to put the ball behind their rush defence because there was space out wide."
Northampton lost Ben Foden in the build-up to the game, when after playing 10 games in a row after an operation on an ankle injury he was ruled out by the England medics.
Mallinder added: "We have got six of our pack missing and it is a disappointing to lose Ben Foden, but we don't use that as an excuse, it is about the squad and the other lads have got to step up.
"Ben is not that far off. He is not 100 percent, but we would have quite liked him to play - he is a key player for us.
"England and their medical staff advised that he didn't play this week. I am very hopeful he will be back next week. He has been training on lots of different surfaces in terms of the icy, snowy, wet conditions and that has probably not helped his comeback."
May was playing his third game after being out with a knee injury and Gloucester director of rugby Nigel Davies felt he has made a difference to the side.
"Discipline was always going to be huge for us," said Davies. "We were very accurate in the contact area and defensively we were excellent. Having players like Jonny May makes a difference in a tight arm-wrestle of a game.
"We had to take something out of this game with our ambition to be a top four team. But we have to turn up like that every week, not every now and again.
"I thought our back row was excellent. Sione (Kalamafoni) was deservedly man of the match. His work rate was phenomenal, he gives us a different dimension."