Schalke captain Benedikt Howedes has acknowledged his side were taught a lesson by a rampant Real Madrid on Wednesday night.
After a 6-1 defeat which all but ends the Bundesliga side's participation in the Champions League for this season, Howedes said there was no disguising the gulf between the two sides.
"We held our own very well for the first 15 minutes, but then we really felt the difference in quality between us," Howedes said.
"It's incredibly hard to defend against Real when you hardly ever get close to the ball.
"Cristiano Ronaldo was everywhere. We saw why he was voted the world's best player.
"It's very bitter to lose by such a margin, but unfortunately we deserved it. You can see the disappointment on our faces, but we'll come back."
Howedes now hopes to take a leaf out of Real's book when Schalke travel to runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich, where another hiding could be in store if they make the same mistakes again.
"We're going to have to keep a clean sheet for as long as we can and then get chances on the counter-attack," he said.
"Real Madrid showed us how it works. We've got fast wingers who can cause Munich problems."