UWE Rosler admitted the return of Shaun Maloney was the only positive of a desperately disappointing night for Wigan Athletic.
Latics slumped to a 1-0 home defeat to relegation-threatened Millwall, which reduced their cushion to the play-off chasing pack to just six points with five matches left.
It certainly wasn’t the result, or performance, Rosler would have liked to take into Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal.
The only goal of the night came from Carlos Edwards midway through the first half, with Latics hardly forcing Millwall goalkeeper David Forde into a save worthy of the name.
But with Maloney coming through the full 90 minutes on his first appearance for six months, the night was not a complete write off.
“Shaun was the biggest plus point - the way he performed and what he gave us throughout the 90 minutes,” recognised Rosler.
“I thought he was our most creative player, and I was amazed that he could play for 90 minutes after such a long time out.
“He can only get better, because the more he plays the stronger he will get.
“It was never the plan for him to play 90 minutes in his first game back.
“But unfortunately I had to make two substitutions at half-time to try to turn the game round.
“The substitutions worked, we were absolutely dominant in the second half, but that left me with only one substitution left which made it very difficult.
“I want to point out that it was the whole team that didn’t perform in the first half, not just the players who came off.
“But I had to change the formation in midfield to get a hold of the game, because in the first half we didn’t have any control whatsoever.”
Having made eight changes from the starting XI that beat Leeds at the weekend - and with Wembley places up for grabs - Rosler watched on as his side struggled to get into any sort of rhythm.
“When you start a game like that it is very difficult to get anything in football,” Rosler added.
“The second half was okay, and I don’t think we could have done any more except score a goal.
“We pinned them back, they only had one chance, and we did everything we could to rescue the game.
“But we gave the first half away. There were big holes in midfield.
“Full credit to Millwall, they played virtually the same team that won at Nottingham Forest at the weekend.
“We had fresh legs in there, players who wanted to prove a point, and players were given the opportunity to prove a point.”
Wigan’s youngsters clinched the Final Third Development League West Division title earlier in the day after a 1-0 victory over Tranmere at Robin Park.