Sean Dyche felt "the gulf between the sides wasn't on show" as Burnley were unfortunate to lose 2-1 to two scrappy Sergio Aguero goals.
Dyche got a "massive response"' from his side against Manchester City, following Monday's 4-0 reverse at West Brom.
And while disappointed to lose, Dyche - also pondering why Jeff Hendrick wasn't awarded a first half penalty following a blatant foul from Nicolas Otamendi - was pleased with his players.
He said: "I'm disappointed in the goals from our point of view, it can happen, the second, they're doing what they're meant to be doing, putting their bodies on the line, and it's only the final moment where two of them clash...
"Other than that, Ben Mee gets a great block, Tarky comes back and makes a great block, Wardy comes to clear and there's a tangle of legs.
"They're trying to do the right thing, so I'm not going to hammer them for that.
"The first one is a poor goal from our point of view, we've made two blips in a really good game plan.
"The players delivered what I wanted them to deliver, exceptionally well.
"We attempted to make the game as awkward as possible. I've said that about playing some of these sides, Arsenal were the same. We want to make it awkward, tough, press, do all the nuts and bolts of the game that can put people off kilter, and I thought we did that very well against a top, top side as well.
"And we created chances.
"I'm disappointed in the outcome, make no mistake, no matter who we're playing, a win is what I enjoy - but we went about it the right way, a massive reaction, massively different performance from Monday night, and we have to take that on the road now."
And he was flabbergasted at Andre Marriner's failure to spot a certain spot kick: "How it's not a penalty, I'll never know. I'm still scratching my head.
"I don't know where it lives, people falling all over the place, not falling over, getting bumped, hit, and you don't get a penalty.
"I was a centre half, he's got caught the wrong side and tried to challenge through the back of him.
"Anywhere on the pitch, that's a foul, but c'est la vie."
Marney' volley gave the Clarets hope, and Dyche was delighted at the way his side delivered his instructions: "It was a good strike, again, part of the game plan to put them under as much pressure as we could, legs, energy and the force of the team, and we did that really well.
"Set pieces are a big part of the game and we delivered really good we pieces generally, and made it uncomfortable.
"The gulf between the teams wasn't on show, and that's a good step forward for us. Part of the journey is to put all that stuff aside, all the things people talk about, the finance...we know the financial difference, everyone does, and some of the difference in quality, but it's a team game and I'm pleased our team got back to what we are about.
"There's still things we can add and change, we were unlucky with injuries, we would have changed the format late on but we couldn't.
"Generally, it's a big step forward for us, that's for sure, now we have to take that on away.
"Even away, that starts with a performance, all I wanted Monday was a performance, didn't get it, worry about results later, you have to give a performance first."
Paul Robinson came in for his Burnley debut - his first action since September 2014, as Tom Heaton's run of 142-successive league starts ended due to a calf problem: "I think Robbo is different class. I see him training every day, he's as lean and fit as he's ever been, he's mentally clear on what he needs to do, he's calm with his years of experience, and his save in the first half is top drawer, for any keeper, age goes out the window."