Reading overwhelmed Curbishley’s men at the Madejski Stadium, with Kevin Doyle scoring twice and Brynjar Gunnarsson, Stephen Hunt and Leroy Lita also netting in a 6-0 win.
Anton Ferdinand scored an own goal to highlight West Ham’s defensive inadequacies, while Reading showed the characteristics Curbishley wanted to see in his own players.
The Hammers remain in the bottom three despite playing with many of the same players they had last year when they finished in the top half and reached the FA Cup final.
Curbishley, who took over from Alan Pardew just over a fortnight ago, believes his players have been affected by last season’s success as a newly-promoted side.
“What has happened is that this team playing last year was the Reading we saw today – full of hunger, commitment, they want to be in the Premiership and drive the Baby Bentley,” said Curbishley. “Unfortunately we haven’t got any of that now.”
He added: “I look at Reading and see a lot of the things you need in the side and we didn’t have any of that.”
Since Curbishley took over from Pardew, he inspired victory over leaders Manchester United but then drew with Fulham and lost to Portsmouth and Manchester City before travelling to Reading.
The former Charlton boss has seen enough in his squad to explain why they have been struggling this season.
“Over at Charlton I’m used to being in the position of staying in the Premiership and coming back the next year and installing the same hunger in the team,” he said.
“They’re not Premiership players until they’ve done five or six years in the Premiership – some of them have only done one and a bit seasons in the Premiership.
“The Premiership is unforgiving when you don’t attack it right. You have to dig in and do the right things.”
He added: “When a new manager takes over, it’s the players who get the results because you have to rely on what they have been doing and perhaps hope some things happen and you pick up a couple of results.
“They’ve shown me in the last couple of weeks why they are down there.
“We’re very fragile and really no-one held their hand up in terms of keeping us in the game.”
Curbishley’s men were behind after 12 minutes when Gunnarsson was given a free header from a Nicky Shorey set-piece.
Hunt headed in the second at the far post before Ferdinand jumped in front of his goalkeeper and put the ball into his own net.
Doyle made it four before half-time when Shorey danced through the Hammers defence before passing to James Harper, who crossed for the Republic of Ireland striker.
“Once we got to half-time it was a case of stopping it being eight – it was a question of not letting in a lot more,” admitted Curbishley.
Lita finished from close range after the restart and Doyle completed the rout with a header from a corner.
Reading boss Steve Coppell admitted a degree of sympathy for Curbishley.
He said: “Things went our way and you enjoy the moment.
“In the fellowship of management you always have sympathy.”
READING: Hahnemann, Gunnarsson, Ingimarsson, Sonko (Bikey 54), Shorey, Little (Oster 54), Sidwell, Harper (Ki-Hyeon 71), Hunt, Doyle, Lita.
WEST HAM: Green, Dailly, Ferdinand, Gabbidon, Konchesky, Bowyer (Newton 19), Reo-Coker, Mullins, Benayoun (Cole 78), Harewood (Spector 46), Zamora.
Ref: L Mason