Kenny Dalglish could not hide his anger at his side's performance following Liverpool's 3-1 defeat at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday evening.
Mark Davies put the home side ahead inside four minutes before Nigel Reo-Coker doubled their advantage before the half-hour mark.
Craig Bellamy gave the Reds hope when he reduced the arrears before the break, but Gretar Steinsson secured victory for Bolton when he netted five minutes into the second half.
Dalglish told his post-match press conference: "The result is disappointing, but the most disappointing thing for me was that I don't think we were ready to play the game.
"I don't think the approach was correct and I don't think the way we went about our work was correct.
"The foundations of the football club have always been built upon respect for other people and the philosophy that the next game is the most important one - not the one that is two or three (games) down the line.
"If they needed a lesson to be taught to them then today was it. If they think they can just turn up and get a result, not be as competitive and not match the opposition for effort and commitment then they've got a lesson today.
"If they've learned it then fine. Without trying to take anything away from Owen (Coyle) and the way Bolton played, we have to look at ourselves and see what we can do to try and prevent it from happening in the future. That's what we'll do."
Liverpool face the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final against Manchester City on Wednesday at Anfield, before playing host to Manchester United in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday.
Reporters asked Dalglish whether he felt his players may have had one eye on the cup ties.
He replied: "I never asked them what they were thinking about, but I would assume people would have that idea in their mind. If they did it's not correct.
"It's not correct in the sense that it is not the right way to go about representing this football club."
Dalglish admitted he was disappointed with the way Liverpool approached the contest, and believes it led to a below-par opening in which Bolton took the lead.
The manager continued: "We lost a goal after four minutes, but we've got to make sure we're in there and ready to go before we start the match, and I don't think we were. That's probably why we lost a goal after four minutes.
"There's nobody been at this football club that's not had respect for other people. If that is what the problem was then, that they thought this game wasn't as important a game as the next one, then fine but they'll not be here.
"The key now for us is not to repeat what we've done."