LINCOLN City’s managerial maestros Danny and Nicky Cowley would have taught many lessons while working at Rayleigh's FitzWimarc School.

And the duo handed out another one to Southend United on Saturday.

Blues looked steady enough during the opening exchanges but once Lincoln capitalised on the visitors’ defensive frailties midway through the first half there was only going to be one winner.

The Imps’ well-deserved 4-0 win extended their unbeaten start to the season and also sent them to the top of the League One table.

But such euphoria and momentum seems a million miles away for the Shrimpers right now.

For the first time since 1992, Blues have lost their opening three League games of a season.

However, the concerns do not stop there for the Shrimpers who, along with League Two strugglers Oldham Athletic, are currently the only side actively playing in the Football League not to pick up a point so far.

Furthermore, Blues also have the joint worst defensive record in the whole of the three divisions having conceded eight goals in three outings, a figure only matched by Scunthorpe United.

Now, the defensive frailties are well known by everyone connected with the Shrimpers, who have gone 22 competitive games and seven pre-season friendlies without keeping a clean sheet.

Southend last secured a shut-out when beating Bradford City 4-0 back in January and have only managed to keep a clean sheet twice in the whole of 2019.

Adding to that, Blues have now conceded 43 goals in the previous 22 outings, meaning they are close to averaging letting in two goals a game.

It goes without saying that until that is sorted, then the Shrimpers cannot expect anything other than another season of struggle. But just how to improve it is the main question right now.

Blues have already used two different goalkeepers and seven defenders in a variety of systems in their opening four fixtures in a bid to stop the rot. However, all attempts remain unsuccessful.

The Shrimpers are still lacking a no-nonsense, aggressive and dominant defender which should have been the main priority in the summer.

Rob Kiernan, Harry Lennon and Liam Ridgewell will all be determined to regain full fitness and prove their worth. But, right now, the defensive woes seem set to stay and, given the problems elsewhere, it is extremely concerning.

For, at the other end of the pitch, the Shrimpers seem to be lacking in creativity and the only effort to have hit the back of the opposition net so far in a League outing was in fact an own goal.

Now of course it is early days and those from further afar looking in from the outside will be quick to point out it is far too soon to panic.

But, delve a little deeper, and it would not be hard to quickly disagree.

This is a Southend side struggling badly at both ends of the pitch and all the defeats, two of which were heavy, were well-deserved.

The team seem short of ideas and, above all else, confidence – something which will not have been helped by some of Kevin Bond’s post-match interviews.

His man-management will now start to be scrutinised even more and it was noticeable that while the Cowleys greeted each of their substituted players with hugs and high fives on Saturday, Bond did not even look in Stephen McLaughlin’s direction when he walked back to the bench after coming off.

McLaughlin and Stephen Humphrys – who posted a cryptic tweet after the final whistle – both appear to be among those being affected as they struggle to hit the standards they have previously reached.

But cumulatively, these levels of performances cannot be allowed to continue.

For the Shrimpers came within a whisker of being relegated last season after staying up on goal difference following a last gasp win against Sunderland in the final game of the campaign.

And that, more than anything else, should have been the biggest wake up call in the club’s recent history.

However, right now, nothing seems to have to be learnt and, if anything, the team’s form is now worse than it was before.

Of course, slow starts are nothing new for the Shrimpers and even promotion campaigns have started with the team struggling to pick up points.

But back then there have always been signs of promise which have, in turn, offered encouragement for what lay in store.

Yet, at the moment, there is nothing to feel upbeat about and, in truth, I have never been so concerned so early in a season in my 30 years of watching the club.

And, if something does not change soon, then you fear Blues may not be able to scrape survival for a second season in succession.