Brendan Rodgers could not hide his disappointment after Liverpool were eliminated from the Capital One Cup courtesy of a 3-1 defeat to his former club Swansea.
Half-time substitutes Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez combined to halve a two-goal deficit with just under 15 minutes remaining at Anfield after goals from Chico Flores and Nathan Dyer put the Swans ahead.
However, the Reds' fate was sealed in injury time when the visitors broke down the field and Jonathan de Guzman tapped into an empty net in front of the Kop to put the game beyond doubt.
And afterwards, Rodgers delivered a frank assessment of his side's performance and insisted that Michael Laudrup's men deserved to go through to the quarter-finals on the night.
"I thought the best team won here," he said. "In the first half we were too slow and it just wasn't what I would want or expect from my team. It was a difficult night for us.
"Swansea were bright and creative. They took their chances very well. It was disappointing to lose and to be out of the competition but I don't think we can have any complaints.
"You can only really hurt when you are the better team [and you lose the game]. And I thought they were the better team.
"I know the size of the job here and tonight has been another lesson for me, in terms of where we are at. It's obviously disappointing but when the other team is better than you, you have to acknowledge that and move on."
The manager opted to withdraw Samed Yesil and Joe Cole at half-time to bring in the attacking threat of Gerrard and Suarez.
And Rodgers insisted that while his aim had been to give the pair time to rest on Wednesday night, the circumstances called for their introduction and the impact they had on the game was there for all to see.
"I would have loved to have been able to keep Gerrard and Suarez on the sidelines tonight and give them that breather because they have been playing continuously and they are the catalysts for the team," he explained.
"But when you need them, you need to put them on. And when they did come on, in the second half, our pressure and intensity was better.
"It took their introduction to up the tempo for us and then we looked like we could score. But we just couldn't get the goal.
"But that will evolve over time. We can't just rely on two players all the time."
While the manager was left deflated by the result and his side's performance, he was keen to take some positives from the night and praised the application of Joe Allen in the middle of the field and Jamie Carragher's dedication at the back.
"Joe was incredible," said Rodgers. "You can see he has come out of that Swansea team and into our team with his brightness and his cleverness. He was virtually playing on his own in the midfield in the first half.
"I thought Jamie Carragher was outstanding. He kept going tonight and kept driving. Young Raheem Sterling came on and added brightness and so it's another game for me to take away and analyse.
"We've got a very small squad and we have been playing in three competitions. I have rotated the side, like in previous games, to look at younger players and fringe players and to give people opportunities to come into the team.
"Tonight was another good lesson."
Meanwhile, the Swans advance to the quarter-finals of the competition, where they will face Middlesbrough at the Liberty Stadium and Rodgers insisted his old club have the quality to progress even further in the cup.
"I know the Liberty as well as anyone," he said. "And it can be a very difficult place for any team to go. They are well-equipped and a very good side. I think they can do well."