Sligo Rovers manager Ian Baraclough admitted his side were "second best in all departments" in Friday’s 3-0 defeat to league leaders Dundalk in Oriel Park.
Visiting goalkeeper Gary Rogers was Sligo’s best performer as he denied Dundalk an even more convincing victory with a string of excellent saves.
Daryl Horgan, Kurtis Byrne and Patrick Hoban did manage to find the net as the Lilywhites produced a stunning performance to go 11 points clear of the Bit o’ Red.
Baraclough said: “It could have been (more) if it wasn't for Gary Rogers. We were well-beaten on the night and that's all I can really say. I thought we were second best in all departments and rightly got beaten.
“I think we'll learn from it. To be beaten so soundly hurts me as a manager and hopefully it hurts the players. I hope it's starting to sink in.
“You talk about fine margins and winning individuals battles within a team game is essential. We didn't win enough of those battles unfortunately.”
The Sligo boss added that the result is a reality check as their run of eight league matches unbeaten came to an end in a devastating fashion.
Rovers won the Setanta Sports Cup earlier this month against Stephen Kenny's men but face a huge mountain to climb in the Premier Division with five defeats in the league before the half-way stage.
Baraclough said: “We've worked really hard to get ourselves back in the shake-up. This defeat isn't going to help matters.
“We knew we were coming to a place that was going to ask questions of us. Unfortunately we didn't have enough answers at all.
“That probably brings some people back down to earth. You might have won a trophy, you have might have won five out of six games, but this game has a knack of hurting you.
“That has shown some of our deficiencies that when you're not fully at it, you'll get beaten.
“Tonight Dundalk were quicker to second balls, better in a lot of departments and it is there for everyone to see. Three-nil, there is no argument.”