MARSEILLE - France captain Guilhem Guirado admitted on Thursday that France have got themselves in a Six Nations fix, but said they would emerge from their current slump.
The once mighty 'Bleus' are on an 11-month, eight-match winless streak and have tasted victory just three times in their last 15 matches.
They host Six Nations whipping boys Italy in Marseille on Friday night in what many are now seeing as this season's battle to avoid the wooden spoon.
"Excuse my language but all by ourselves we've put ourselves in the shit a bit, now we'll try to get out of it together!" Guirado said frankly on Thursday.
"It's true there's a special context to this match because we've lost a lot of matches -- too many," added the Toulon hooker.
"But we hope that with the result and desire we produce on Friday we'll embark on a new series -- this time wins."
Ever since storming to the Grand Slam in 2010, France have been a shadow of their once mighty selves -- a team that has reached the World Cup final three times and dazzled in some spectacular performances and victories, never more so than the astonishing come-from-behind semi-final win over New Zealand in 1999.
But in seven editions of the Six Nations since 2010, and despite reaching another World Cup final in 2011, France have only once finished in the top half -- when they were third last year thanks to a controversial victory over Wales in their final match.
'Obviously that hurts'
Seven years of struggling, not to win the Six Nations but just to finish in the top three, is not what France had become accustomed to and a recent poll published widely in the French press found that the national team had dropped 30 percent in terms of popularity amongst fans.
"Obviously that hurts because I've always known a triumphant France team," said Guirado. "It's very difficult but I want to believe and that's why I'm preparing myself for that.
"Popularity comes with results so we're going to have to quickly roll up our sleeves and show what we're capable of, from Friday."
France forwards coach Sebastien Bruno, himself an international hooker until the emergence of Guirado in 2008 helped knock him out of the France reckoning, said times have changed since he wore the blue shirt.
From 2002 to 2008, he played in three Six Nations winning sides and was part of the France squad that reached the World Cup semi-finals on home soil in 2007.
"It was a different era. The other teams have improved while we've stayed at the same level," he said.
"Ireland, Wales and even Scotland weren't at this level back then. All the teams have progressed and now it's up to us to get to their level -- before it was the opposite.
"But we have quality: four teams have qualified for the European Cup quarter-finals.
"We've got experience and momentum. It's a difficult period with the series of defeats, it's hard to get over it.
"The first match (a last gasp defeat to Ireland) was tough and could have been different and set us on a different dynamic.
"But there you go, we've put the message across to the players that we want them to show that they're the best (in France) and we hope to see that on Friday."