Nigel Clough was quick to separate result from performance as his Burton Albion side were beaten 4-0 by Aston Villa to suffer a first home defeat since the opening day of the season.
The Brewers never truly recovered from a double sucker-punch inside the opening 20 minutes, Keinan Davis and Albert Adomah finding the net despite Albion showing much of the early promise.
The third was added by Robert Snodgrass, while Josh Onomah came off the bench to provide a late fourth after repeated waves of Burton pressure came to naught in the face of a solid Villa backline, led by centre-halves John Terry and James Chester.
Villa scored with four of their five efforts on target, an indicator that this was by no means the sort of humbling they took at the hands of Leeds United earlier in the month.
But Clough acknowledged that the gulf in quality between his Brewers and a big-spending Villa side ultimately told - even if he felt his team's display warranted more.
"We separate the two things, result and performance," said the Burton boss post-match.
"It's a very, very poor result, but the performance wasn't too bad.
"The goals we conceded were poor at times. The second one's a mis-hit, third one's a deflection, we can't do much about that.
"And the gulf in quality of the ex-Premier League players that they have shows at times.
"But I thought we started the game well and put them on the back foot.
"The first attack they had, they scored from, and then the second one really knocked the stuffing out of us with the mis-hit that crept in at the near post."
Villa looked in total control once their lead was doubled in the 16th minute, with much of that down to the calming presence coming from the back.
Perhaps the biggest pressure they came under was in the opening 10 minutes, when the Brewers played at pace down the flanks but were unable to produce the quality needed with the final delivery.
"It was completely against the run of play," Clough added on Villa taking the lead.
"I think Stephen Bywater has had four things to do and he's picked the ball out of the net four times tonight.
"The nice thing was we kept going, we kept plugging away and we kept trying to get a goal.
"As I say, the Premier League defenders that they have there with Terry and Chester and Ahmed Elmohamady, and then Glenn Whelan in midfield, make it very difficult once they get ahead."