It was another disappointing trip to Wales for The Whites as poor defending and a distinct lack of closing down made it all too easy for promotion rivals Swansea City.

With Bradley Johnson suspended following the red card he picked up against Barnsley in midweek, Simon Grayson was forced to go 4-4-2. The absence of Johnson was evident throughout with the central midfield partnership of Neil Kilkenny and Jonny Howson failing to compensate for the loss of defensive input that he provides.

The problem was not so much Jonny Howson, but Neil Kilkenny’s aversion to tackling. Killa’s lack of defensive input is hardly a new phenomena, but with a four man midfield, the Australian needed to step his game up and get the tackles in. Unfortunately, he failed miserably.

Jonny Howson covered the yards and seemed to be one of only two Leeds United players (the other being Max Gradel) who wasn’t taking part in a 90 minute game of Hot Potato. Unfortunately, neither the captain or Gradel could stop the rest of the team from hoofing the ball clear with panicked clearance after panicked clearance.

Between Swansea’s three goals, Leeds did carve out a couple of chances with Davide Somma seeing his header come back off the woodwork and Max Gradel denied an absolutely clear-cut penalty, but for the most part, this was an absolutely dreadful performance from a Leeds side that looked more like relegation fodder than potential promotion candidates.

It’s perhaps a little harsh to single anyone out from defence for individual criticism, but George McCartney has been dreadful for the last three consecutive games now and it was nice to see Ben Parker replace him late on. The on-loan full back was exploited by a rampant Swansea side time and time again as he drifted out of position and failed to close the advancing players down.

Max Gradel, whose defensive assistance I questioned only last week seemed determined to prove me wrong and was the only player who offered any protection to Leeds’ defence down that side. Doing the job of two players meant his efforts were often in vain, but it was nice to see someone attempting to stop the onslaught.

Aside from Max Gradel, and possibly Jonny Howson – for his effort, if nothing else – there’s very little praise you can give to any of those representing Leeds today. The entire defence continuously held off players allowing them space and freedom to shoot, whilst the midfield looked unbalanced and the forwards barely saw the ball.

It in no way excuses the comprehensive defeat we suffered, but the referee did little to help Leeds either. When he wasn’t denying us clear-cut penalties, he was tallying up yellow cards in what seemed an extremely discriminate manner. Both teams were guilty of a few rough challenges, yet only those in blue seemed to be going into the book.

Overall, Swansea thoroughly deserved the victory. Leeds were absolutely dire throughout and can have no complaints whatsoever. To be brutally honest, 3-0 perhaps flattered us.

Maybe this was the wake-up call we needed? The defence has been a constant weakness for a while now, but with Leeds losing just once in four months, the run of form was an easy excuse for the players to point to. If they’re serious about promotion, they can no longer afford to enter games with such an attacking mindset and must now adopt a more balanced approach before time runs out and we’re left to regroup for another season in the Championship.

Two points from three games, with eight goals conceded is relegation form. If today wasn’t the wake-up call that Leeds United’s players needed, then a nosedive down the table is inevitable.