Paul Cook admitted to mixed feelings after seeing Wigan Athletic crash out of the Carabao Cup at Rotherham on Tuesday night.
On the one hand, he was delighted with the way his much-changed side played for the majority of the 3-1 defeat at the New York Stadium.
But, a failure to make the most of some decent chances created, and more disappointing goals conceded - eight now in the first three games of the campaign - saw Latics fall to their second defeat in three days.
“I thought we did all right, I genuinely did,” Cook told the Wigan Post.
“Sometimes with these cup competitions, you’ve got to be a little bit careful in what you say, but we throw patched-up teams together and expect them to give top performances.
“It just doesn’t work like that with the best will in the world.
“We had so many players playing together for the first time and apart from the goals - which are a massive part of the game, I’m not stupid - we looked a very good side.
“We dominated the game, we dominated the ball, and individually had some very good players on the pitch.
“We just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net, and that’s the name of the game.
“Rotherham managed to do that, they’ve won 3-1, and they’re through to the next round.
“But if you look at the competition, and then the league, and where we are at the moment we’re just pleased to get the minutes into the lads that we managed to get.
“The fans know where we stand with these competitions, it was the same last year, and we look forward to the next one on Saturday.”
Given Latics boasted the best defensive record in England last term, Cook admitted the way the backline have started this term is a concern - albeit with mitigating factors.
“We’re never happy to lose games, or concede goals, don’t get me wrong,” the Latics boss added.
“We built our success of last year on the solidity at the back, and being hard to beat.
“All of a sudden we’ve lost Dan Burn, Nathan Byrne, both of the left-backs from last year...and we need to rediscover that focus as quickly as possible.”