The Black and Whites fell behind to a try from Jack Welsby with less than two minutes on the clock before they eventually succumbed to a 34-16 loss.
The groundwork for victory was laid in a dominant first-half display from St Helens, who added further tries from Lachlan Coote, Morgan Knowles and Welsby.
Welsby completed his hat-trick early in the second half, after Adam Swift had scored Hull's only points of the opening 40 minutes.
Mahe Fonua scored twice in the second period for Hull but Hodgson admits that his side did not start the game well enough and insists lessons will be learned before his side meet the same opposition in next weekend's Challenge Cup semi-final.
"We didn't have the right intent at the start of the game and against a team like St Helens if you don't muscle up early and don't want to involve yourself in that physical battle, what happens is what we got tonight," he reflected.
"We are going to learn plenty from that and we have to be at the right level next weekend."
He added: "It is about getting better every week, we will look at what we did well and what we didn't do so well.
"We will make sure we are ready to go."
Joe Batchelor completed the scoring for the hosts, who also had a number of close calls which went to the video referee.
Hodgson admitted his side "weren't up for it" against a St Helens side who bounced back strongly from their 20-16 defeat against Catalans Dragons last week.
The defeat means Hull are yet to win against any of the sides currently above them in the table.
"We weren't willing to be physical enough," added Hodgson.
"They wanted to run harder and they wanted to tackle harder than us and we just weren't up for it.
"There is a number of reasons for that and we won't make any excuses. We got taught some lessons tonight."
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