Zenit was once again close to winning the USSR Championship in 1963 under Evgeny Eliseyev, but fell one step short of victory. Vasily Danilov, a Zenit player, was on the USSR team that came in third place in the World Cup in 1966. Danilov, a defender, holds the record for most caps by a Zenit player in the USSR national team: 23 matches.
Zenit finished last in the USSR Championship in 1967, but the team was kept in the top division anyway as a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution being celebrated. Zenit’s play started to improve dramatically in the beginning of the 1970s with the coming of Evgeny Goryansky, but the coach was quickly called up to train the national team instead. His replacement, German Zonin, tried to build the team’s play using a scientific approach. Zonin applied the results of research done by scientists, but the best result he could achieve was fifth place in the fall championship of 1976 and reaching the semifinal of the USSR Cup in 1977. Zenit was headed by a new trainer, Yury Morozov, in October, 1977.