Watford defender Adrian Mariappa has conceded he and his team-mates allowed themselves to get "bullied" throughout Sunday's 1-0 FA Cup fourth-round defeat at Millwall.
The weakened team manager Walter Mazzarri named, which retained only four starters from the recent 2-2 Premier League draw at Bournemouth, was consistently outplayed by their League One hosts and perhaps deserved to lose by a greater margin.
Mariappa, who was making his first appearance of the season having returned to the club during the summer, was among those to struggle against Millwall strikers Lee Gregory and Steve Morison, who scored the winner.
He recognises that even though they were aware of the threat the Lions posed - and which had been demonstrated when they defeated the Cherries 3-0 in the third round - they did not adjust accordingly and their latest defeat left them with only one win in nine.
"You know what kind of game it's going to be when you come here, and we didn't stand up to it," he told the club's official website. "They pretty much bullied us, and deserved to beat us.
"They defended very well. I'm not going to use the pitch and things like that as an excuse. You can't just turn up on the day and expect to beat people; you have to earn it and we didn't and they did.
"I've been waiting a long time, and for whatever reason hadn't had the opportunity, and then had the injury. It's nice to get back on the pitch, but unfortunately it wasn't the result or performance I'd wanted to come back to."
Watford's lack of form, belief and balance will soon leave them at greater risk of relegation if they do not significantly improve, and on Tuesday they visit title-chasing Arsenal.
"A performance, first and foremost, is what we need," said the 30-year-old, who last season appeared in the final for Crystal Palace. "I'm gutted that's the performance we put in, and would have liked to have a nice cup run as well."
The victory concluded a positive week for Millwall, whose future at The Den had been threatened by a proposed compulsory purchase order of land surrounding the stadium but which on Wednesday was abandoned by Lewisham Council.
Their manager Neil Harris has spoken of his desire to again be drawn at home in the competition's fifth round, and of his belief Sunday's performance was the culmination of the unity the club has shown amid their recent adversity.
"It's been a hard few months for us, with the disappointment at the end (losing the 2016 play-off final to Barnsley) at Wembley last year when we got so close.
"And we've had sticky spells this year. Everyone's pulled together; it's a squad of outstanding lads, I'm delighted they put in such an accomplished performance.
"Two clean sheets against Premier League opposition is some going. To play with purpose and control, with good decisions.
"I'd love to be at The Den again, I don't think many teams will fancy coming here in the next round. We're in the last 16, a good achievement for anyone outside the top division."