ROB Baxter admits that Exeter Chiefs did not do themselves justice as they slid to a comprehensive opening-day defeat away to Northampton Saints.
Neither side had lost on the opening day of the season since 2005, but the Chiefs' wretched record at Franklin's Gardens continued as tries from Dylan Hartley, Ken Pisi, Tom Wood, George Pisi and Samu Manoa wrapped up an emphatic victory.
Fly-half Stephen Myler also kicked 13 points, but most of the damage was done in the opening 40 minutes, when the Saints built up a 31-6 lead.
A late try from skipper Dean Mumm and two Gareth Steenson penalties were all the Chiefs had to show for a tough afternoon against Saints.
Baxter acknowledged a trip to last season's beaten Premiership finalists was a tough assignment, but felt that uncharacteristic errors meant the Chiefs had not done themselves justice on the day.
"There is no disgrace in losing Premiership games but I think we should also be disappointed if we have gone out and performed to a level not high enough or anywhere near our best – I think that is our underlying feeling," Baxter told Echo Sport.
"It is a tough place to go, Northampton played well and are good team, but did we do ourselves justice? I think it's fair to say we didn't and that's what we have to address.
"We coughed up the ball in a variety of scenarios which was uncharacteristic for us which meant we couldn't build much pressure in the first half.
"Whether it was a handling error, a passing error, a mistake at the line-out or a soft penalty, we found an array of different ways to make it hard for ourselves.
"I think we dealt with a lot of it at half-time and put in a more characteristic performance, but we are still lacking in finishing things off in a clinical manner.
"Our individual physicality also wasn't enough to force home what we wanted to do.
"Where we are also disappointed is the broken-up phase play where we came off second best – we would like to think that is an area we can do well in but it wasn't at the weekend.
"Nobody is hiding from the issues – we just need to make sure we identify the right ones to improve on."
Northampton made a blistering start to proceedings, with England man Dylan Hartley – playing in his first top-flight game since his high-profile dismissal in the Premiership final – being found on the wing by Luther Burrell to dot down.
The faultless Myler added the extras, but the Sandy Park club hit back through Steenson's boot when Phil Dowson was yellow-carded for a professional foul.
But Myler kicked another penalty before Burrell set up Ken Pisi as the hosts began to stretch their lead.
Wood collected Ben Foden's pass for their third try of the day after an up-and-under was not dealt with and, despite another Steenson penalty, George Pisi scored in the corner to bag a first-half bonus point.
The Chiefs came out much-improved after the break, and were helped by Courtney Lawes' trip to the bin for a dangerous tackle.
The TMO ruled that Haydn Thomas was held up over the line, but Mumm had more success after being teed up by Ben White.
But that was as good as it got for Baxter's men as they struggled to build momentum in the final 20 minutes, and Manoa wrapped up a comfortable win.
The defeat saw the Chiefs stick with an altered defensive system which had been employed during pre-season, including in the 29-26 defeat to Glasgow
Baxter cited the number of missed tackles as a key factor in that defeat, and he felt again that individual errors rather than tactical ones were largely to blame for the Northampton setback.
The head coach remains determined to continue implementing the defensive changes, but he warned that it takes time for any team to adapt to a new style of play.
"We tweaked our defensive systems but we made some poor decisions with it," Baxter explained. "We weren't the best defensive system last season by any means so when you try and knock that forwards you are going to makes some mistakes.
"That is how it is though – when you change things sometimes you have to take a little bit of pain before it works.
"To be fair the guys involved though, a lot of our mistakes in that area came off the back of making mistakes in possession and that is what we have to address.
"I think we made some soft mistakes defensively where we flew out of the line to make man-and-ball tackles when we probably didn't need to.
"It's a bit more complex than blaming a one-off missed tackle or a change in system – it is a combination of things."