Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill admitted his side had been given an "almighty fright" by newly-promoted Exeter as three late tries saw the Aviva Premiership champions recover from 11 points down to prevail 37-27 at Welford Road.
The Chiefs had led 27-16 with 16 minutes to play but scores from wing Scott Hamilton, centre Dan Hipkiss and a late penalty try eventually sealed a bonus-point win and cruelly denied Exeter anything from a breathless game they had made a huge contribution too.
Cockerill said: "I didn't know what to expect (from Exeter) but I do now and so does the rest of the Premiership."
He added: "You have to give them a huge amount of credit; they gave us an almighty fright. We could talk about how poor we were, but you have to give them credit and they are a good team who will cause a lot of problems for a lot of people.
"For them to come here and play like that and get nothing out of the game must be sickening, they deserved something."
While Exeter excelled, Leicester were some way below their champion best. The Tigers line-out was shambolic at times, although that was rectified somewhat by the introduction of England flanker Tom Croft at half-time, and there were several instances of poor passing and handling breaking down attacking chances.
And Cockerill admits his side have much work to do before facing Wasps next weekend.
He said: "They made it very tough for us but we need to be better at certain things and up the ante. The line-out is a concern because you have field position and then you don't win the ball, or if you do it's scrappy.
"For me it's a repeat of pre-season and last week (against Northampton). You have to keep hold of the ball and build pressure, and in defence we were a little soft and were falling off tackles, but we will fix that.
"Everybody is happy with the five points but not the performance. But I won't walk away and say we were poor, they were bloody good."