Ralph Hasenhüttl was left rueing Arsenal’s superior cutting edge after his team returned to Premier League action with a 2-0 defeat in north London on Sunday afternoon.
A bright opening for Saints very quickly gave way to the two goals that laid the platform for a Gunners victory at Emirates Stadium.
While the Austrian was disappointed at the way in which his side conceded twice within the opening 20 minutes to Alexandre Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, an improved second half performance provided some comfort ahead of a critical Wednesday night meeting with Fulham at St Mary’s.
Nathan Redmond might have put the visitors in front with their first foray forward only for the home side to strike immediately afterwards on the counter-attack; it was a moment that proved key to the direction of the three points.
“(Redmond’s chance) was a key moment,” Hasenhüttl said. “We knew exactly what we wanted to do at the start of the game and get in behind on the first long ball.
“It was a good chance and then we gave the ball away on the counter-attack too easily. Against a team like Arsenal when you go 2-0 down after 20 minutes, their confidence is up and it is very difficult.
“You know then that you have to score at least twice and they have won all of their last six games here against very good opposition.”
A change of shape – which saw Charlie Austin and Michael Obafemi take the places of Jack Stephens and Stuart Armstrong - paved the way for a more accomplished showing after the break.
“What we tried at half time was to change the system and our shape and show that we are brave and want to come back into the game by taking more risks and pressing earlier.
“It worked okay, we still gave chances away but made some more for ourselves. Ultimately, Arsenal deserved to win, they were the better team.”
The Saints boss’s disappointment was compounded by the hamstring injury to Obafemi that limited the substitute’s return to action to just 20 minutes.
“I’m very disappointed for Michael’s injury,” he concluded. “It’s horrible for him to have this problem after just 20 minutes. He is a guy who is very quick and we are working hard with him on his body shape and posture.”