IT IS worrying enough that the points are drying up with the goals when Tranmere take to the road.
The more immediate concern for manager Ronnie Moore on Saturday was the sharp drop in form that marked a third successive away defeat in League One at the hands of Bristol Rovers.
Weariness, physical and mental, from the extra time exertions of an FA Cup replay defeat to Peterborough in midweek may have had something to do with a lack of zest in Tranmere's performance.
But it was not an excuse that would impress any of the 174 dedicated travelling supporters who made the journey to the Memorial Stadium. And it wasn't an excuse Moore was keen to reach for.
Tranmere were second best over the 90 minutes to a Bristol side who had not posted a victory in their previous six outings.
Slack defending was at the core of the Pirates' poor run, cancelling out the good work of a free-scoring attack. Coach Paul Trollope worked his players hard through last week to address the problem.
Bristol were tighter and more composed at the back. But they were hardly given a searching examination by Tranmere, who failed to create a clear cut scoring opportunity throughout the afternoon.
Some Tranmere fans, understandably disappointed after journeying so far to see so little, complained to Moore about the tactics being "too negative".
The 4-5-1 set-up has rarely looked as sterile as it did on this occasion. But to be fair, a similar line-up has also played the system to successful effect over the last couple of months.
The main problem this time was that too few players in the side performed well enough to make any kind of tactics work. Too many were out of sorts.
Even so, Tranmere's failure to score in their last six away games provides ammunition for those who want to see the team playing a more adventurous 4-4-2 formation home and away.
Rovers invariably produce a more entertaining brand of football when they operate with two strikers instead of one.
The trouble is, as Moore points out, they concede an average of two goals per game using the system. The switch to 4-5-1 had a lot to do with Tranmere posting nine clean sheets in 12 games during October and November.
Providing excitement for the spectators isn't a priority for any away side and Tranmere did little to rouse the passions of the gathering at the stadium Bristol Rovers share with the local rugby union club.
Nor for that matter, did the home side, who struggled to break through the layers of cover Tranmere spread in front of them.
A series of stoppages for injuries made the action drag even more. Tranmere, resorting to the long ball more frequently than is their usual, managed to create the game's first half chance on 37 minutes when Mark Wilson seized on a cross from the left by Ed Sonko, saw one shot blocked and mis-hit the other well wide from just inside the box.
Moore insisted he intended to give his players a "rocket" even if they had reached half-time with the scoreline blank. A Bristol goal on 41 minutes meant Tranmere had to raise their game and come from behind.
The visitors were undone by a diagonal run into the box by Craig Disley. Goalkeeper Danny Coyne, moving off his line, forced the midfielder wide to the right of goal.
But Disley was able to turn and fire a low cross back towards the near post where striker Jo Kuffour squeezed between a couple of defenders to nudge the ball over the line.
Centre back Ben Chorley collided with the post in his attempts to keep the ball out and needed treatment before the game could resume.
Tranmere duly started the second half with more purpose and enterprise but the wind was quickly taken out of their sails by a second Bristol goal on 50 minutes.
Once again an individual run caused their undoing. Chris Lines' surge forward from midfield took him away from two challenges and as a clear route into the penalty area opened up, the midfielder fired low past Coyne from 15 yards.
Moore's response was to introduce teenager Terry Gornell as a second striker and switch to a 4-4-2 formation just before the hour.
The energetic and determined Steve Jennings ensured Tranmere kept plugging away in the hope of finding forcing their way back into the contest.
But Bristol were still able to create the better chances on the counter attack.
Coyne had to make a sharp reaction save from Kuffour's first-time volley and another when Disley ran onto a knock-on from striker Rickie Lambert.
Then defender Craig Hinton hooked a shot against the post from four yards after Tranmere struggle to clear a corner.
Bristol were comfortable winners in the end.
BRISTOL ROVERS: Phillips, Pipe, Hinton, Elliott, Lescott, Disley, Lines, Campbell, Hughes, Kuffour (Duffy 83), Lambert. Subs not used: Green M, Green R, Anthony, Rigg.
TRANMERE ROVERS: Coyne, Johnson, Chorley, Goodison, Taylor, Moore, Jennings, Kay, Wilson, Sonko (Shuker 64), Savage (Gornell 58). Subs not used: Achterberg, Antwi, Edds.
Referee: James Linington, Isle of Wight.