Nigel Clough believes a host of first-half turning points went against his side as 10-man Burton Albion were beaten 4-1 by Hull City.
The Brewers originally battled back well after losing Stephen Warnock to injury and going a goal down to Abel Hernandez's header, all inside the first seven minutes.
Jackson Irvine curled home a sublime equaliser as Albion pushed more and more onto the front foot - and they looked the more likely to go ahead.
That was until Irvine saw red for a second bookable offence after tripping Jarrod Bowen as he stretched for possession on the edge of the Hull box.
Defending with 10 men for the best part of an hour, Clough's side were made to pay for their one-man disadvantage after the break by the impressive Tigers, Kamil Grosicki's header making it 2-1 and Hernandez then ramming home two more to complete his hat-trick and decide the game well before the whistle.
But Clough points back to all that unfolded in a breathless first half - including a disallowed goal for Lucas Akins - as the primary reason for their second successive Championship defeat of the season.
Asked if he felt like it wasn't going to be Burton's day when Warnock went off inside five minutes, the Brewers boss said: "It felt like that over the whole game really.
"But especially in the first 45 minutes, where we should've come in 3-0 ahead playing with 11 men.
"There were several turning points today - that was the main one.
"The first goal, which was offside - there's one. And the goal that Lucas scored, which is onside.
"We didn't think the second yellow card was justified.
"So if you factor in Stephen Warnock (as well), it's very, very difficult to come to a side that were in the Premier League three months ago and survive."