Crusaders' pre-season schedule continued with a 2-0 defeat against a strong Hearts side in the Oval tournament.
Boss Gary Locke will be happy with his side's showing while counterpart Stephen Baxter should also be encouraged by some clever movement and passing from his men.
However, the Edinburgh side flexed their muscles in the second half and their supporters' mood was lifted further when news of Hibernian's 7-0 Europa League loss to Malmo filtered through.
Seaview new boys Sean Cleary, Nathan Hanley and Thomas Wray featured for the Shore Road side while Declan Caddell made a welcome return to action after being suspended for the Europa League showdowns with Rosenborg.
Wray and Hanley were both handed starts against the Scottish Premier League side backed by a healthy travelling support.
Hearts broke the deadlock three minutes after the restart.
Callum Paterson went on a superb run, rounded keeper Sean O'Neill and crossed for Ryan Stevenson to head home.
Hanley's long range drive was then tipped over by Hearts stopper Jamie MacDonald.
Paterson almost doubled his side's lead on 60 minutes but O'Neill came to Crusaders' rescue with a fine block.
In the 79th minute Jamie Walker waltzed into the Crusaders box and fired a rocket of a shot that flew just over the crossbar.
But the Jambos made it 2-0 from the penalty spot in the 90th minute. Jamie Hamill netted after Walker was fouled in the area by Chris Morrow.
Crues striker Jordan Owens welcomed the tough work-out which has increased sharpness ahead of the new season.
"It was a tough game and it's what you want," he said. "That's why we were delighted to play Rosenborg because the games make you stronger, fitter, sharper and faster. I would not really follow Scottish football but they are professional teams and they are training every day."
Liverpool's Under-21 side will take on Hearts at the Oval tomorrow (2.30pm).