Tom Wood insists Saints must turn their fortunes around quickly if they are to secure some silverware this season.
Jim Mallinder’s men have lost four of their past five games, including the LV= Cup final and three Aviva Premiership fixtures.
But they remain second in the league standings and have an Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final against Harlequins to look forward to.
And Wood is eager for his side to get back on track in Sunday’s clash with London Irish at Franklin’s Gardens.
“We’re not looking for excuses,” he said, when asked whether the return of their Six Nations stars has hampered Saints.
“You can be a victim of your success but we want good, young players playing for England and that is part of the challenge. It’s not something we’ll look to as an excuse.
“We’re all professional players and we’ve got to look to get back on the horse and get back into the Saints way of doing things. We pride ourselves on that.
“Whether it’s down to the Six Nations players coming back, I don’t know, but we haven’t quite functioned as well as we should have during the past few weeks. “We’ve got to do it quickly because we’re running out of time.”
Saints suffered a 28-24 defeat at Saracens last Sunday, being on the back foot for the majority of the game before mounting a late fightback.
Wood, who was skipper for the day, was far from impressed with the performance, but believes there is plenty more to come from his team.
“I think we looked confused at times during the first half,” said the England flanker.
“I don’t think we were on the same page and you could just see the momentum building for them.
“We were struggling to get a hold of the game. We did plenty of good stuff.
“Our maul was strong for the try early on and we should have gone over in the final few minutes with them being a man down.
“We lost Christian Day, which is a big deal in our pack, and communication was poor up front. We didn’t quite nail our drills.
“We were well beaten. We were poor and I guess the one positive to come out of it is that we played so badly and were still in it at the end.
“It’s a tough place to come and play against a top side and the only positive we can take is the character we showed in the last 10 minutes.
“We were still in the fight even though we’d played so badly and God help a team when we get it right.”