Dundalk manager Filippo Giovagnoli insists his team's all-action display in the 4-3 Europa League defeat away to Rapid Vienna clearly demonstrates that the League of Ireland club can compete on the European stage.
David McMillan's 82nd-minute penalty had looked set to earn the Irish side a share of the spoils after goals from Kelvin Arase and Dejan Ljubicic overturned Pat Hoban's early headed opener.
However, in a hectic finale, the hosts struck twice in the last four minutes to deny the Lilywhites a first point in the competition.
"It's disappointment," Giovagnoli said when asked to explain how he felt after such an encouraging performance.
"We had a great performance tonight. The team performed and deserved so much more than what happened at the end, but now we understand that we can compete.
"We understand we can compete with these Europa giants.
"We were not afraid, we came with a plan. We played good soccer and unfortunately the result was not good for us, but we are looking forward to the future and the next few games with more positivity."
Dundalk retired at the break on level terms and Giovagnoli revealed he was more than pleased with how the game was unfolding in Austria.
We made some mistakes and of course in Europe if you make mistakes, you get punished
"I was confident. At half-time, we didn’t have much to correct. We were performing. We came here to play without fear. We pressed, in middle and attacking third. It was a complete performance.
"Then we made some mistakes and of course in Europe if you make mistakes, you get punished."
Goalkeeper Aaron McCarey, who replaced Gary Rogers in the starting XI, struggled for some of the Vienna goals, yet still the League of Ireland club fought back to make it 2-2, and could have gone ahead when Greg Sloggett then squandered a free header, only for Vienna to go down the other end and restore their lead.
"Sometimes you need a little bit of luck," Giovagnoli said.
"I don’t trust much luck, I trust hard work, but sometimes you need it and tonight was not our night with the result, but the performance is still a great one and I’m proud of all the players who showed that they can compete."