Stewart Downing does not believe Aston Villa should be too downhearted following the defeat to Manchester United on Tuesday night.
Villa had been hoping to build on an encouraging run of form when they travelled to Old Trafford but immediately found themselves a goal down as Wayne Rooney broke the deadlock inside 60 seconds.
Villa ultimately went down 3-1 despite a valiant effort to get back into the game, as United extended their unbeaten record in the Premier League this season.
Downing admits the early goal was crucial, telling his club's official website: "You can't give them a head start.
"To be fair it was a great finish from Rooney but it was sloppy on our part. I thought we passed it and moved well without that final ball.
"But they are a good team and you can't afford to give them a two-goal start.
"They can punish you and they have got players who can do that.
"That is probably why they are unbeaten all the way this season. They are crucial times [to concede] and we wanted to start well."
Downing nevertheless believes there were positives to take from the game, both in terms of the quality of Villa's play and the character they showed in trying to fight back from a two-goal half-time deficit.
"Teams who go behind here can crumble and we didn't," he explained.
"We kept passing and playing and in the end their quality probably told.
"But we can still be proud of ourselves. We gave it a good go and we know what we have to improve on."
Another plus point from the match was a second goal in three starts for January signing Darren Bent, who fired home from Downing's assist.
"That is why we bought him," the former Middlesbrough man added. "It is still a hard finish for him even though he is one on one with the goalkeeper.
"It put us right back in the game and I thought we were getting on top a bit until we conceded again.
"But their quality shone through at times and they made it hard for us."