Max Power warns Sunderland squad it's now or never for promotion hopes
For the third game in a row Lee Johnson's side dropped points from a winning position, this time falling to defeat after a desperately poor second-half showing.
The Black Cats now face high-flying Doncaster Rovers in a crucial League One fixture on Saturday, as they look to make up some of the vital ground they have lost in the last fortnight.
A dejected Power said the squad would have to stand up and be counted.
"Anyone who knows me knows I'm a really positive person but I can't stand here and put any positive spin on that," he said.
"There's no positives, we've lost the game.
"1-0 up, away from home, there were times earlier when even when we weren't at it, you'd back us to keep a clean sheet.
"Start of the second half, we're not going to dig anyone out but it's an error which gives them a leg up.
"The second goal is then avoidable and we can't shy away from the fact that overall, we've been second best. We've been punished for that and lost the game.
"You can shy away from it or you can analyse it, look in the mirror and decide where you want to go from here.
"There's plenty of football left but we can't keep passing up opportunities, and we can't keep talking about how many games are left.
"For me it's a bit of now or never, the season is on a hinge where it can go one of two ways," he added.
“You find out a lot about people and character when things like this arise.
"It's nice being a footballer when it's going well and you're getting pats on the back, so we'll see, it's a big game Saturday against a team in form and so for me that's a good game to go into off the back of this.
"I'd like to think once the dust settles people are going to come into the building and be ready to go."
Sunderland's lack of ruthlessness when ahead has long been an achilles heel and Power said the squad would have to accept all the criticism they face in the days ahead.
"1-0 up is always a dangerous scoreline and you know you need the second,” he said.
"The warning signs were there for us a few weeks ago.
"We played Shrewsbury at home and were 1-0 up at, and they went really direct and penned us in. We dealt with it that day but again, you run the risk when you don't get the second.
"I thought we responded pretty well after conceding but it shouldn't take that for us to come back to life.
“I'm not going to dress up, it's a poor evening and we're going to have to take the criticism that comes our way.
"We saw there at the end how much it means to Shrewsbury.
"We know we're a scalp and so we know every time we play we've got to bring our best.
"If you're not ready, you're not at it, you'll get put on your back and that's what has happened tonight."