Martin Hunter believes the Checkatrade Trophy clash against Peterborough United underlined the value of the competition to Southampton.
Saints fielded an under-21 team against the League One leaders, as one of 16 clubs invited by the EFL to enter a young side.
Although they were beaten 2-0, Hunter’s men performed impressively against their high-flying, senior opponents, and the experience was something that Southampton’s Technical Director feels was invaluable.
"Unless they get exposed to this they're never going to find out, and it shows who can stand up to and be counted and who needs a lot more work – that's the real purpose of this sort of tournament,” said Hunter.
"It gives us a snapshot of what they're like playing against tough opposition and obviously men, and then we can develop their programmes individually depending on the needs of each player.
"I said to them before the game that the most tired part of your body in games like this should be your brain, because you've got to think, and out-think the opposition, particularly as some of their players are obviously seasoned professionals and they've got quite a lot of league games under their belt.
"It's a thinking process and they've equipped themselves very well.”
Hunter now wants the players to take what they have learned into their next Premier League 2 games, before returning to Checkatrade Trophy action in October, when they visit Cambridge United in their next group match.
"What we need to do is build on this to play games in the Under-23 league – that's before we get to playing the other two Checkatrade games – so the level’s been set and they need to produce that against their own age groups.
“That's first of all, and we'll look at the other two [Checkatrade Trophy] ties as and when they come"