BENDIGO Spirit coach Bernie Harrower has warned his players they will have to "push through the pain barrier" on the practice court in a bid to get up to speed this WNBL season.
Bendigo was outplayed 79-67 at Townsville on Friday in a performance Harrower labelled "unacceptable".
It was a match where little went Bendigo's way - including a lop-sided foul count (26-16).
"That was when the game was basically over and also the amount of times they went to the foul line (26-11)," Harrower said.
"That has an effect on the game and Kelsey Griffin fouling-out in 12 minutes, she just couldn't touch anybody."
The Fire gave Bendigo lessons in intensity and pressure.
Townsville scored 15 points from turnovers to Bendigo's four and the Fire's bench players added 26 points to the Spirit's two.
"We were really scattery and all credit to them, they certainly went after us," Harrower said.
"The went after us like the team that wanted to get revenge on getting beaten in last year's grand final."
The Spirit has had a restricted pre-season that Harrower described as the worst in the club's history.
The veteran coach said his players will have to prepare themselves for a tough few weeks at training in a bid to hit top gear.
"We're not in sync as a group yet," Harrower said.
"Some of our new players will get an opportunity this week to get into our offences a bit more.
"We're going to have start training harder and players will have to push through the pain barrier because Friday night was just unacceptable."
A positive for the Spirit was Elyse Penaluna getting through her return match unscathed.
Bendigo hosts Adelaide at 7.30pm on Friday night.