Grant McCann admitted he could sense a lack of a killer edge in his side as they fell to a 3-0 defeat to Salford City.
Rovers produced some fine play in the middle of the park to largely control the game at the Eco-Power Stadium but failed to make it count in the final third.
And they were undone at the other end with striker Matt Smith converting three of Salford’s four efforts on target to give the visitors the win.
“Sometimes you have to hold your hands up - there was an in-form centre forward coming here and we’ve left him free twice in our box,” McCann said.
“We have to be better. The third one, he’s just ran and followed in like any good centre forward would do.
“But we didn’t have it at the other end of the pitch. I didn’t smell it, and we spoke about it at half time.
“I didn’t smell that aggression, hunger and real grit to put the ball in the back of the net.
“That was from set plays where the movement wasn’t great, in general play where movement wasn’t sharp enough and we didn’t get ourselves in the middle of the posts.
“It was a lesson for us, how a centre forward can get himself into a really good position in the middle of the posts and get three good goals from it.
“That’s something we can learn from.”
McCann was frustrated to see a second half goal for Joe Ironside ruled out for offside, which proved to be an incorrect decision.
Had the goal stood, the Rovers boss felt his side would have had a strong platform to get back on level terms, particularly with how they were performing.
“I’ll always credit when credit is due,” he said. “I was pleased with the boys. They kept going.
“Nobody likes losing. I hate losing. But tonight we got done off two very good crosses from Salford in the first half.
“We scored a good goal with Luke Molyneux playing a great pass into Joe Ironside, who was on-side. That’s another goal at home that gets chalked offside incorrectly. I’ve shown it to the assessor.
“If that goes in I think it’s a different story. We’re in the ascendency and we get back into the game.
“We didn’t get the rub of the green on that one and the third goal is a sucker-punch where we just don’t follow the runner in.”