FOR spring 2014, see spring 2013 - a similar tale of woe is unfolding this year as last for Wasps, who again look to be heading into hibernation just as the leaves return to the trees.

Last season they peaked at fourth place in the Aviva Premiership table before eight losses in all competitions in the run-in consigned them to eighth place.

The black and golds hit fifth this winter, but defeat to Sale made it five losses on the bounce and they are now seventh in the table, just one point above eighth.

It’s a bit like deja vu.

Director of rugby Dai Young said: “There are similarities because we put ourselves in a pretty good position.

“But when it gets to the business end of the season other teams have got another extra gear and we struggle to find it.”

General fatigue in a thin squad cost Wasps in 2013, and this year injuries to match-winning backs has set them back.

Speaking to the Bucks Free Press last week, Young also admitted that mindset was an issue.

His team were playing for the very future of the club a few years ago; playing for sixth doesn’t have the same urgency and while they can raise themselves for Bath, Quins, Leicester...there is a tendancy to hit cruise control against the middle of the road teams.

In the last 18 months Wasps have been beaten by Exeter and Sale three times, London Irish twice and Worcester and Gloucester once.

While these games aren’t a given, they’re the ones Wasps need to start winning to reach the next level.

Young said: “We’ve got limitations in our game that we need to keep working on. We’re still a young team together, but we struggle for a bit of X factor.

“It’s not for the want of committment. The boys out there are giving it everything. But that's where we.”

It seems likely now that taking the next step will have to be next season’s challenge, with just half a dozen Premiership fixtures to come.

Young said: “We're still in the fight but realistically we have to rely on one or two other results to go our way.

"And in fairness to Sale they deserve it. They’ve done the double over us.

"In the two games we've played against them they've been better than us so who are we to say we should be sixth and they shouldn't make it?

“There are a number of games left but with regards that top six, we've put ourselves under pressure.

"I always felt we were in a fight for that sixth spot and that was as good as we could get this season, but we've certainly put ourselves up against it."