Rangers extended their winless run at the start of the season to 10 games yesterday [Sunday] with a 1-1 draw against Reading, leaving them already five points adrift of safety.
After surviving on the final day of last season, owner Tony Fernandes invested heavily in the summer and Rangers certainly had not anticipated being in this position.
With matches against Stoke, Southampton, Sunderland, Aston Villa and Wigan coming up in the next month, Mackie knows QPR must start living up to their potential.
He said: "Obviously this club is thinking big and it's a massive opportunity for the boys here to be part of something big but first and foremost we're in a scrap and everyone needs to realise that.
"We need to roll our sleeves up and really scrap to get ourselves out of it rather than have visions of playing a lot higher.
"Of course we don't want to be in a scrap. We need to try to win games now so come the Christmas period we're in a position where we can try to kick on.
"We beat top sides at home last season, deservedly, we played very well at times, but it's not a given that we can do that again.
"It's an opportunity now to get points on the board and we need to learn very quickly and make sure we do that because before you know it we'll be playing top sides again."
Yesterday exposed two of QPR's shortcomings - conceding early goals and vulnerability from set-pieces, with Kaspars Gorkss opening the scoring from a corner in the 16th minute before Djibril Cisse equalised 24 minutes from time.
Mackie said: "We need to start games quicker, get a foothold in the game and not let teams like Reading play against us. Once they do get a goal and they've got a carrot they're very hard to break down, they're an organised side.
"If we could put a finger on it then we'd stop it but we definitely need to sort that out because in the Premier League you can't give goals away early on and cheaply."
It was certainly not a surprise to see the Royals net from a corner and QPR are likely to be punished once more if they do not address the problem before next weekend's trip to Stoke.
"We are working on a bit more organisation," added Mackie.
"It looks like as a team we need to demand a bit more off each other.
"You don't mind if someone scores a world-class goal, which most players in this league are capable of, but there haven't been too many of those against us."
Pockets of QPR fans voiced their frustration throughout the match, with a few muted calls for manager Mark Hughes' head, but Fernandes has given the Welshman his unequivocal backing.
He repeated that stance today, telling Sky Sports News: "I have complete faith in Mark Hughes and we have a great squad, we just need to hold out for that stability and I'm sure things are going to go right.
"It's been one of those frustrating seasons for us but I'm keeping the faith and keeping calm. It's not a time to panic."