Lyon coach Remi Garde and striker Bafetimbi Gomis were both encouraged despite the 1-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain.
Blaise Matuidi's goal in first-half stoppage time was enough to take PSG ahead of Lyon to the Ligue 1 summit on goal difference.
But second place still represents success for Les Gones, who were forecast to struggle this season after a summer of drastic cost-cutting which saw several big names leave the club.
Hugo Lloris and Aly Cissokho were sold to Tottenham and Valencia respectively, long-serving defender Cris was released from his contract to join Galatasaray and young striker Jeremy Pied departed for Nice, with relatively low-budget replacements including veteran Steed Malbranque, Arnold Mvuemba and Fabian Monzon.
Further departures are expected in January but Gomis - who, along with Michel Bastos, is the subject of speculation over his Stade Gerland future - is simply enjoying an unexpectedly successful campaign.
"We are in our proper place and showed that we can compete with PSG," he told L'Equipe. "There are lots of positives to take from the game.
"We should have done better in the three-on-two which led to the Parisian goal. And also, the referee should have given a penalty when Mamadou Sakho slipped and fell on me before I could play the ball."
Garde added: "We have regrets because we competed well against this Paris side. We did what we had to except for 30 seconds when they scored the goal.
"Lisandro hit the post in the first half and we could have used the flanks better and made better choices going forward. But we were against Paris, it's difficult."