Gary Caldwell held his hands up and admitted Wigan Athletic didn’t deserve anything from their trip to Sheffield Wednesday.
Despite taking a fifth-minute lead through Will Grigg - his fifth goal in seven matches in all competitions - Latics had been pegged back by the half-hour mark thanks to Steven Fletcher’s equaliser.
The Scotland international then hit the bar at the start of the second half before Fernando Forestieri secured a deserved three-points for the Owls on the hour mark.
“Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and admit the opposition deserved to win on the day, their forward players were a real threat,” Caldwell told the Evening Post.
“The disappointing from our point of view was having got the early goal - from a fantastic counter attack, something we’d been working on in terms of picking off passes in midfield - we didn’t build on that enough, keeping the ball enough and controlling the game.
“We gave away possession far too cheaply, and had to defend for long spells.
“With the forward players they have, you’re always going to get punished doing that.
“It’s still something we’re learning at this level, and I’m sure we’ll get it right.”
Caldwell tweaked the formation a couple of times during the 90 minutes in an attempt to halt the flow of the game.
But the visitors were unable to rouse themselves, and indeed Wednesday could and should have added to their two goals, such was their superiority.
“Formation doesn’t really have a great impact on the game - it’s the players that do,” recognised the Latics boss.
“The players have to take responsibility, when they have the ball they have to make better decisions.
“In the last 15 minutes we started making good decisions, causing them problems, and we have to do that more.
“We have to believe in ourselves more.
“This group of players contains some fantastic talent, and they showed last year in League One they can play at a really high level.
“They have to bring that into this league now.”
Not for the first time this season, Caldwell found himself gushing at the contribution of top-scorer Grigg, who was in the right place at the right time to convert Michael Jacobs’ excellent left-wing delivery.
“I’ve said before that Will can score at any level at any time,” remarked Caldwell.
“He is a goalscorer, and his general play was also fantastic.
“He does so much more than score goals - his work for the team was incredible.”
The Scot was also vindicated in his decision to pitch in young Reece Burke - on a season-long loan from West Ham - for his debut in a three-man central defence.
“Reece was fantastic,” enthused Caldwell. “For a 20-year-old to play in that position isn’t easy, against the likes of Forestieri and Fletcher.
“That was a big positive from the day, and he’s going to be a big asset for us this season.
“We also had Luke Burke at right-back, and he’s another fantastic lad with fantastic potential.
“But it’s a difficult test against players of the quality of Forestieri.
“He’s obviously young, and at this level you get punished for any mistakes you make.”