COLCHESTER’S body-blow at home to Tranmere sparked a rather unfortunate post-match discussion among the press pack, in the minutes spent waiting for U’s boss Joe Dunne.

The question was simple.

Which is or was the worst, most worrying predicament – the club’s precarious position with five games to go last season or the position they find themselves in now?

Both were and still are unenviable, nerve-jangling scenarios.

But surely the honest, realistic answer is that the current dilemma is of greater concern.

Colchester were 19th this time last season, after 41 games. This time they’re 18th.

However, they had the relative luxury of being six points better off than third-from-bottom Portsmouth.

This time, it’s only goal difference keeping them out of the drop zone and, to compound matters, they’ve played a game more than the sides directly below them - Tranmere and Carlisle.

Colchester knew their fate was firmly in their own hands last season.

They made hard work of it, beating Orient, losing to Notts County and MK Dons, drawing with Shrewsbury but then winning at Carlisle to secure another season of League One football.

Once again, their fate still rests in their own hands.

However, they absolutely must arrest this current slide in form – a run of results that, at the moment, suggests only one thing - that the worst-case scenario is inevitable.

Performances have become irrelevant.

It’s all about points and not least because their last few fixtures include six-points against the likes of Stevenage, Oldham and Crewe, before ending with much tougher matches (on paper at least) against Brentford and Walsall.

Such rank bad form is bound to cause anger, pile on the pressure and allow negativity to prosper.

But Joe Dunne and his players cannot allow their focus to slip, now more than ever.

Wave the white flag and it’s curtains. Goodnight Vienna.

Come out fighting and it could be a very different, happier ending.

It’s not going to be pretty.

It’s going to be tense and it’s not for the faint-hearted, as was the case this time last year.

But let’s just hope and pray that results in the coming weeks lead to the same outcome – survival.