Warren Joyce admitted Wigan Athletic had only themselves to blame after delivering rock-bottom Rotherham a belated Christmas present in South Yorkshire.
Latics paid a high price for a woeful first-half showing at the New York Stadium against the Millers, with the 3-0 half-time scoreline hugely flattering the visitors if anything.
A much better second-half showing saw goals from Yanic Wildschut and Jordi Gomez ensure a nervy last 10 minutes for the hosts.
Indeed, Latics thought they’d found a stoppage-time leveller, only for the referee to spot a handball in the build-up before the ball crossed the line.
But there was no doubt that the better side on the day had deservedly edged a proper relegation six-pointer.
“Obviously going in at 3-0 down you’ve given yourselves a mountain to climb in the second half,” Joyce acknowledged.
“It’s always difficult to overturn a three-goal deficit, but I thought we’d actually managed to do it with the goal that disallowed at the end.
“You just can’t give any team a one-goal start let alone three.
“And I just think the first goal is such a poor goal to concede.
“If you’re looking at reasons why you’re playing Yanic up front...there’s bit of his play, tracking full-backs, and second balls...the ball that drops in the box...people should be marked.
“It’s a miss-hit shot that’s going wide, so the lack of concentration to pick that up is poor, and the second goal was the same really.
“We give away a cheap free-kick when we should have won the ball, and been driving towards their goal.
“You’ve then got people wandering out of positions, not really looking to clear the second balls...and even there’s a massive deflection.
“I thought we were then poor from that moment until half-time. We looked raggedy and not really playing with any thought.
“The second half was obviously a lot better.”
As Rotherham dropped deeper and deeper after the break, it looked like the comeback to end all comebacks was on when Gomez reduced the arrears to one goal with 12 minutes still to go.
“You’ve always got to believe you can do it,” recognised Joyce.
“It’s a 90-minute game and you’ve always got to believe - and we nearly did it.
“Every team in this league plays a certain ways, and we knew they were all about second balls and knock-downs.
“We talked about it, and we’ve ended up getting beat by two second balls.
“It wasn’t like we were carved open or ripped apart by a good team playing football that you can’t contain.
“It’s just poor individual errors really, the basic of football. It’s as simple as that.”
Joyce denied the result was more damaging than any other, despite the Millers having picked up only 10 points all season prior to kick-off.
“It’s a damaging defeat because people will look at it being the bottom club,” the Latics boss added.
“But it’s just another three points, and you’re still looking at the teams above really.
“We need to be looking for three points to climb upwards, not worrying about going downwards.”