Wolfsburg coach Lorenz-Gunther Kostner pleaded for "a little bit of understanding'' after his side were thrashed 5-1 by rock-bottom Hertha Berlin.
The defending Bundesliga champions required extra-time to see off Rubin Kazan in the Europa League on Thursday night and looked jaded on their return to domestic action. Theofanis Gekas hit a hat-trick for Hertha to add to a brace from Adrian Ramos with Grafite grabbing the Wolves' sole consolation.
Kostner predicted beforehand his side would struggle following their European exertions and he refused to criticise them afterwards.
"Maybe we should have a little bit of understanding that my team now needs time to recover,'' he said. "Then we will be able to bounce back.''
Nevertheless, he did not expect his team to capitulate in such a dramatic way against a side who had won only three matches all season.
"We have worked up a positive goal difference in recent weeks only to throw it all away in one match,'' he said. "We have failed. This defeat really hurts and leaves scars. We have been punished and it could not have gone any worse.''
Hertha took full advantage of Wolfsburg's tiredness to pick up three crucial points in their quest to avoid relegation. They remain seven points adrift of safety with seven matches remaining, but the manner of their victory at the VW-Arena augurs well for the future.
"We have nothing to lose so that is our chance,'' said coach Friedhelm Funkel. "We want to win as many games as possible and fight to the very last game.''