Chris Boyd admits Clermont Auvergne were just too good for Saints as his side fell to a 41-20 defeat at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday afternoon.
The French table-toppers scored six tries as they flew into a 41-6 lead, with Tom Collins and David Ribbans dotting down late on to make the scoreline slightly more respectable.
It was a really tough 80 minutes for Saints, who got off to a losing start in this season's European Challenge Cup.
And Boyd said: "In some ways we didn't help ourselves, but they were probably far too good for us today.
"We had to chase the game a little bit and played with more risk and we ended up making mistakes.
"In the first 20 or 30 minutes we creaked in the set piece and we couldn't control the game.
"You need to control the tempo when you're playing a big French team that you want to run around, but if they control it, they can play the game the way they want."
Saints were overwhelmed at scrum time during the first period, providing a platform for Clermont to build their attacks from.
"We're working hard on that space and we're not having any trouble on our own ball," Boyd said.
"We're getting the ball in and out the way we want to on our ball, but when teams want to scrum us, like Bath did and Clermont did today, you've got to stay in the fight otherwise you get penalised.
"They got scrum penalties and kicked to the corner and it was hard for us."
But Boyd could not fault the effort of his side, who kept going until the final whistle, finally giving the fans who had remained in the ground something to shout about.
"When you get beaten 41-20, you wouldn't expect a player to stand out in a losing side, but I thought Teimana Harrison was just unbelievable," Boyd said. "He was dead on his feet because he just kept trying.
"We're not getting things our own way and we're disappointed about that, but our problems today were about skill and execution against a big side.
"There's no suggestion from anyone we're not trying and not trying to be the best we can.
"There was no white flag there, which I'm pleased about.
"We got 14 points at the end to make it a bit more respectable and that's the one small thing to hang on to."