AT ITS pre-season launch four years ago, St Kilda went on the front foot, declaring that by 2018 it would be a top four side, preparing to win the premiership within two years of that.

In the real 2018, as opposed to the one spelt out on a glossy piece of paper, the Saints are miles off it.

They are in a world of pain, and they know it. Their rooms were closed to everybody in the immediate aftermath of the 49-point loss to Adelaide on Saturday night at Etihad Stadium. Even club president Peter Summers was made to wait outside.

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They have kicked 12 goals in their last two games – both on their home deck and in perfect conditions – and what's worst is that their fans have already lost faith.

Barely 19,000 fans were there to see it – the lowest crowd for a Saints-Crows clash at Etihad Stadium since 2003.

Truth is the Saints are not giving their fans much reason to come to the footy. They were much better in the contest this time compared to the Good Friday debacle against North Melbourne, especially in the first half, but they butchered the ball time and time again.

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"You just can't beat quality teams if you don't maximise opportunities," coach Alan Richardson said afterwards, pointing out how regularly St Kilda gifted the ball back to Adelaide by kicking the ball out on the full, often under little pressure.

"We had big periods of control but were unable to create any scoreboard pressure. We failed some basic execution,” he said.

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Part of that was the delivery to the forward line, but also the forwards itself.

"The forward line didn't work," the coach admitted and that's where the heat will come this week.

The Saints tried the three talls – Tim Membrey, Josh Bruce and Paddy McCartin – in the first two weeks of the season and they delivered six goals between them in the season opener against Brisbane and none last week.

Membrey was a late withdrawal on Saturday night and the suggestion is that he might be missing for another week or so with a troublesome knee.

That left Bruce and McCartin to carry the load and they were both poor.

Bruce had 10 touches, five marks and a goal, but he didn't have an impact. McCartin also had 10 touches but didn't kick a goal and his failure to take games by the scruff of the neck is becoming a real concern for the Saints.

McCartin is starting to get the run of injury-free consecutive games St Kilda has always claimed he has needed. But given what they invested in him – the No.1 pick in the 2014 NAB AFL National Draft if you need any reminding – they're not getting the return.

Richardson forecast some changes to the forward structure for next week's game against Geelong at GMHBA Stadium.

But his options seem limited. Can he manufacture a swarming small forward line like that which carried Richmond to the flag last year and which clubs like Hawthorn seem to be aping?

Returns of 5.12 and 7.13 over the last two weeks will demand some sort of action be taken.

Poor kicking plagued St Kilda last year and the club went and secured Ben Dixon as a specific kicking coach.

Let's hope the former Hawk sharpshooter isn't on a performance-based contract because so far, it hasn't worked, much like a lot else at St Kilda.

There were all sorts of other prognostications in the grand plan Summers unveiled to the world on that warm February night in 2014, and some are closer to fruition than others.

But the premiership by 2020? Not likely.