Mark Hughes admits Bradford City were unable to make Middlesbrough uncomfortable in League Cup defeat
Hughes was phlegmatic about it, reasonably content with the way his side played, but accepting that the greater class of Michael Carrick's side told.
"We were up against a good team and we needed to just stay in the game and not go behind," said Hughes, whose side went 2-0 down in the 54th minute.
"As soon as we went behind in the game it was very difficult for us because they could just retain possession and bide their time. Theyb were very comfortable in possession and their rotation.
"There was a lot of movement ahead of the ball and at the back they were very comfortable. They looked to pop it around us.
"It was difficult to press the game and put them under any pressure physically just because they're comfortable in possession, they can handle the football. It was difficult for us to have those moments that can turn a game.
"Credit to them, they're a good team who showed their quality.
"We just needed a bit more opportunity to stay in the game.
"We said at half-time let's stay in the game at 1-0 and see where the game takes us. In the last 10, 15 minutes we had a go but it was 2-0 and to all intents and purposes the game had already gone.
"I'd made changes after about 70 minutes to protect the likes of Cookie (Andy Cook) and Jamie (Walker) but I was able to get Patto (Alex Pattinson) on, so I was pleased with that. Adam (Wilson) came on to good effect on the right and Ray (Tulloch) showed once again the quality he's got.
"It was not the result we were looking for but the cup isn't a priority for us this year."
The second goal came just as Bradford were threatening to make a better fist of the second half.
"We'd just got a foothold in the game and were starting to ask a few questions but it took the wind out of our sails. It didn't allow us that opportunity to win the game so at that point it was about looking at players who are really important to use," said Hughes.
"We didn't play Kev McDonald because I was trying to protect him.
"Credit to Boro, they were good on the night.
"Players at higher levels usually make better decisions on a more consistent basis, that's the only difference.
"Everyone can head it, kick it and run, it's just about picking the right decision at the right time and the right technique.
"We can't say we had enough opportunities to win the game because that's not the case. We did okay.
"There's elements of possession play we've tried to introduce at key moments but it's about recognising the key pass that affects the opposition in a detrimental way. We're probably not as good as them at the decisions on when to make the pass with good angled passing that takes players out of the game.
"We'll take note of it and understand the experience of going against a very comfortable possession team and take on a few of the elements of it."