Phil Jones admits Manchester United deserved to lose at Newcastle after a performance that simply was "not good enough".
Jose Mourinho's wait for his first Premier League win at St James' Park continued on Sunday as old foe Rafael Benitez oversaw a memorable 1-0 victory.
Matt Ritchie's strike proved the difference on an afternoon when relegation-threatened Newcastle dug deep, stuck together and gave their all - a performance that second-placed Red Devils were no match for.
"Poor," Jones said of his side's display. "Poor. We started slow and sloppy. The crowd were on their feet, they got momentum.
"We gained a bit of momentum midway through the first half. Second half we had a few chances, cleared off the line but, you know, we're not kidding ourselves. We were not good enough today."
Jones conceded it "wasn't about luck" in Sunday's defeat given Mourinho's side put in a meek, undercooked display that they can ill-afford to repeat.
"We started too slow and couldn't get to the rhythm of our game," the England international told MUTV.
"For whatever reason, we weren't good enough today and we'll have to play a lot better than that if we're going to kick on and improve.
"You know, they didn't (create a lot of chances) even when the crowd were on their feet and had a few half chances, (even though) the crowd think it's sort of a one-on-one.
"We had a few chances ourselves, could have scored, but I think the result was probably fair. I don't think we deserved to win the game today."
While Jones spoke to broadcasters, the other Manchester United players skulked out of St James' Park onto the team coach as Liverpool were beating Southampton.
Jurgen Klopp's Reds are now third and within two points of Mourinho's men, with just six points separating second from fifth - a gap that could shrink further on Monday evening.
"A lot of teams around us keep drawing, losing points and there is a lot still to play for," Jones said when asked about the top four given leaders Manchester City now boast a surely insurmountable 16-point cushion.
"It was a disappointing day, but we have to go again. That's all we can do, that's all we know. We're disappointed, we're devastated, but we have to improve."
The visitors' post-match emotions understandably contrasted starkly with Newcastle's after a victory to cherish.
It was a particularly special afternoon for goalkeeper Martin Dubravka - the imposing January loan signing from Sparta Prague, who produced a man-of-the-match display on his debut.
"I feel amazing, we won and that is the most important thing," the Newcastle shot-stopper said.
"But also it was my first game and my debut, so I am very happy that we won. I only knew two hours before the game that I would play.
"The coach told me what the line-up was going to be, and I tried to stay calm and focus on the game. Knowing I was playing was an amazing feeling.
"To know you will play in a competitive game with a big club was great. We have to realise this is a big club and we have to fight for things. I am so happy that I won on my debut."