Ireland coach Andy Farrell needs to set out a clear strategy for where he is taking the team once they wrap up their Autumn Nations Cup campaign on Saturday, former Ireland winger Shane Horgan told AFP.
Farrell and Irish Rugby Football Union performance director David Nucifora have been criticised by former players including Horgan and 2009 Six Nations Grand Slam winner Gordon D'Arcy.
They fear Ireland have regressed since Farrell was promoted from assistant to the top job when Joe Schmidt stepped down following last year's Rugby World Cup.
It is not a view shared by forthright captain Johnny Sexton, who pointed out that Ireland had already slipped last year - with a poor Six-Nations showing following their 2018 Grand Slam, and a disappointing World Cup.
Horgan, though, remains far from convinced.
"This next fixture against Scotland (the third/fourth place playoff) is interesting," he said. "Ireland could play a reductive game plan and get a result but I do not think it would be massively beneficial.
"Either way, Farrell after that game has to set out in further detail, for the fans perhaps but certainly for his employers, his strategy to move the team on so we perform better than we did at the World Cup last time round."
Horgan, who played 65 Tests for Ireland and four for the British and Irish Lions, said he was sceptical that Farrell had the scope to develop Ireland's game plan.
"At the moment I cannot see us travelling on that trajectory," said Horgan. "The work might be in place but he must outline it.
One of the perennial questions surrounding Ireland and the direction they will take is who will replace Sexton as flyhalf.
Despite being increasingly injury-prone and aged 35, Sexton is adamant he has no thoughts about hanging up his boots.
A hamstring strain for Sexton allowed Farrell to test Sexton's Leinster team-mate Ross Byrne and the promising Ulster fly-half Billy Burns in the loss to England and the scrappy win over Georgia.
Horgan played with Sexton at Leinster - winning two European Cups and concedes it is always difficult for any team to replace such a pivotal player.
"We are a victim of Johnny's ability," said Horgan. "It is difficult to transition a player out when, even if it is recognised he has come to the end of his career, he is still ahead of those coming up behind.
"Ross Byrne has had a difficult couple of games, Billy Burns has come in and started one Test but I don't think he is a player who will be removing Sexton any time soon."
Horgan said the nub of the problem could be that Farrell had removed an ingredient integral to the success enjoyed under Schmidt.
"Andy Farrell commented when he took over he was not so much focused on the game plan but removing a bit of detail to allow players to express themselves," said Horgan.
"One benefit of the Joe Schmidt era was the detail and if the players followed it then they could express themselves.
"However, now without the detail to implement the game plan it is very difficult for that to happen."