GARY Caldwell acknowledged it was too much to hope for a miraculous late comeback two weeks in a row after Wigan Athletic went down by the odd goal in five at Port Vale.
Seven days after coming back from the dead to beat Chesterfield, Latics were this time the victims of last-gasp drama.
And Caldwell recognised Latics had only themselves to blame for returning to the north west with nothing after Uchi Ikpeazu’s winning goal.
“We can’t do that every week,” the Latics chief said. “We can’t keep coming back from 2-0 down away from home and do miraculous things.
“It’s just not going to happen, football’s just not like that.
“We have to be braver from the start, we have to be better from the start, and we have to improve.
“We have to take more responsibility on the ball, and produce a better display than we did in the first half - because that’s not good enough.
“I’m really disappointed. To get back into it and lose the game is a big disappointment.”
Latics fell behind in the first half through Anthony Logan’s rocket, and the Vale lead was doubled when Louis Dodds fired past Rich O’Donnell just after the hour mark.
And while hailing his side’s battling spirit to reply through Chris McCann and Leon Barnett in the final quarter, Caldwell was angry they found themselves in that position in the first place.
“There is spirit in the side, but we have to do that from the start of games,” the Scot insisted.
“There has to be that approach from the outset.
“You ain’t going to be successful if you keep giving teams a two-goal start.
“It’s not good enough - and I don’t think the defending is the problem.
“I thought at times we defended very well, we dealt with Ikpeazu and his physical threat very threat.
“Pearcey and Barney were superb against him, I can’t argue with them in terms of their effort and their application.
“But you can’t keep defending free-kicks and corners - and putting yourself under pressure - against good teams or you’ll get punished.”
Caldwell’s mid-game switch from his starting 3-4-2-1 formation to a more conventional 4-4-2 helped his side find a way back into the game.
But the gaffer hinted the problem was more mental than tactical.
“It’s all about the mentality,” he said.
“Formations get spoken about a lot, but if you can’t pass a ball to your team-mates then you’re going to give yourselves all sorts of problems.
“I think it’s braver to do what we do when we’re behind from the start.
“It’s a lot easier to do it at 2-0 down, because you’ve got nothing to lose and you’re going to have a go.
“To keep going two goals behind tells me there’s something going wrong from the start, and we have to be stronger mentally from the off.
“We’re not that bad a team - not as bad as we showed in that first half, when our passing was terrible.
“In spells we can see it’s there. We played some great stuff at 2-0 down, and probably should have gone in front.
“We then had chances at 2-2, but you can’t keep asking to chase games like that.
“It’s not in the real world. You can’t expect to come back and win every week.”
Caldwell also defended his decision to leave £1million man Will Grigg on the bench on his return from international duty.
“I think Craig (Davies) and the front two were excellent last week, and I think it was probably more of a decision to leave Jordy (Hiwula) out,” Caldwell added.
“I thought he did excellent again when he came on, and there’s competition for places.
“We had a very strong bench today, and I said that again to the players: They’ll all have to work very hard to stay in the team.”