Ross County manager Stuart Kettlewell believes his players were naive after being punished by a streetwise Aberdeen at Victoria Park.
The Staggies slumped to their third straight home defeat after being beaten 3-0 by an impressive Dons side in Dingwall.
Kettlewell was a frustrated figure following the disappointing display.
He said: “I thought they were better on the ball and more streetwise than we were.
“We rode our luck in the first 10 minutes, it was a whirlwind start.
“I was asked before the match about fatigue for them, but I never thought it would be an issue because that was exactly what they were going to be talking about in their dressing room.
“You may ride you luck and have those moments when they hit the woodwork a couple of times, but then you’re hoping for a response from your own team and we never get it.
“We never handled the ball well enough, we didn’t influence it when we didn’t have possession – we were more than happy to drop back and be passive in the game.
“Everything went against what I believe in and what we ask from the players on a daily basis, so there’s huge frustration in how we’ve performed.”
County’s inability to handle the Dons in the wide areas was the major source of frustration for the watching manager.
Kettlewell said: “It’s the naivety of it in the sense that we spoke about it all week.
“We know that they’ve got the likes of Hayes that can deliver in the fashion that he does, whether Hedges or Wright drifts on to a side – these guys are all capable of delivering balls into the box.
“Sometimes you make yourself look silly by getting beaten in those one on one situations, but the only way to influence it is to put yourself in those scenarios.
“We were prepared to drop off and hope for the best when the ball came into the box, and that’s never what I’ve asked for since day one of pre-season.
“When it comes in the ninth game, it’s frustrating because I never saw it coming.
“I thought there was a bit of fear at times to go and engage these guys.”
To compound a miserable afternoon for the Staggies, captain Iain Vigurs was sent off after conceding the penalty for the visitors’ second goal.
Kettlewell, however, insists his side can have no complaints.
He said: “It’s not the result and it’s not the performance we were after.
“Aberdeen were better than us from the first minute to the last minute.
“We could paint a picture that we had a man sent off and they had a penalty that leads to the second goal, but even from my point of view, when it was 11 against 11, I felt they were better than us all over the pitch.”