Brendan Rodgers put a brave face on Celtic's 7-0 demolition by Barcelona in last night's Champions League opener at the Nou Camp - insisting there could be "no embarrassment" about the club's heaviest ever European defeat.
But there can be no disguising the fact that his Bhoys were humiliatingly taken apart as Barca captain Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick and Luis Suarez a double with further goals from Neymar and Andres Iniesta, while Moussa Dembele had a penalty saved at 1-0.
Rodgers claimed: "This will be a brilliant learning season for us in the Champions League. Tonight is one of the tough nights that you take at this level. There can be no embarrassment because they do that to better teams than ourselves.
"Professionally it is never nice when it happens."
Messi scored twice in a sublime first period and added a second-half third for this sixth Champions League hat-trick - a competition record.
Rodgers felt Dembele’s failure to convert a 24th-minute penalty — when the score was just 1-0 to the hosts — was pivotal.
He added: “There was a massive moment in the first half.
“If you can get the penalty and get to 1-1 then it can make the crowd nervy, especially after their loss (against Alaves) at the weekend.
“To go down 2-0 quickly was obviously disappointing.
“The combination of our tiredness and their quality and freshness — these are top-class players.
“The pitch is fantastic. The ball moves as if it is on an ice rink and they move as fast as that, they are high-level, top players with big belief and that is why they are what they are.”
Ulsterman Rodgers did not blame Dembele for failing with the penalty, however.
He said: “I think credit to the goalkeeper.
“Moussa was happy to accept the responsibility and the keeper read it and made a good save and that probably needed to go our way.”
The Carnlough man believes his side suffered in some ways for putting too much into Saturday’s 5-1 win over Rangers at Parkhead.
“It is tough when you lose so many goals,” he said.
“But these players have been brilliant.
“They could not have come to a more difficult place in world football, after a highly intense game at the weekend where they put so much into it and dealt with so much pressure and played so well.
“To have hardly any preparation time to come and play against the world’s best at keeping the ball and tiring you out, and beating you up with the football at times, it was a tough ask for them and that last 15-20 minutes did feel long.
“Even the older ones will learn from that and that will make us a better team.
“It doesn’t matter if you are playing Barcelona or Berwick Rangers, there is professional pride and no professional likes to lose like that, even though we are playing against a team of top, world-class players.
“But you can’t be too downhearted.
“We have had a brilliant start to the season and this won’t hamper us in any way — you will always take the positives from it.”
Barca boss Luis Enrique thought the margin of his team’s victory was exaggerated but, after having some luck with the penalty save, he was looking for perfection from his side.
He said: “It was the only move they had to get into the box which brought danger.
“The game could have changed but we will work hard to improve on our mistakes.
“But at the level we played at tonight it would have been difficult (for any opponent).”