Steven Davis conceded Northern Ireland had a "mountain to climb" after falling 2-0 behind against world champions Germany in Hannover.
Michael O'Neill's side knew they faced a huge challenge against the World Cup qualifying Group C favourites and it was mission impossible by the 17th minute when Germany led 2-0 with goals from Julian Draxler and Sami Khedira.
The travelling Green and White Army feared a hammering against the slick hosts but Northern Ireland frustrated the home side for the rest of the contest.
Southampton midfielder Davis admitted his side were reduced to a damage limitation exercise even before half of the opening first 45 minutes had passed.
"Clearly it was a very difficult night, they are a very difficult side to play against," said the Northern Ireland skipper.
"Obviously we gave ourselves a bit of a mountain to climb at 2-0. You're not going to come here and score three goals away from home.
"So you've got to be realistic but I think the positives are we managed to show pride, we kept digging in to the very end, kept going, and it's no embarrassment losing here.
"They retain the ball so well and you have limited chances against them so you need to be clinical.
"But we aren't going to be judged on what happened in this game."
West Brom defender Jonny Evans said Germany gave the Northern Ireland backline a "constant concentration test" but he took encourgament from his side's battling performance.
"After 20 minutes the game is sort of gone, it's a very difficult team to come back against," said the former Manchester United ace.
"Towards the end we just had to show a bit of pride and try and play a bit more and express ourselves, and I thought we did that a bit in the second half.
"It's like a constant concentration test and we expected that after playing them in the Euro 2016 finals. We managed to stay in that game for longer but it's hard when they score twice so early. They make you work so hard but we should be proud of our efforts. You never want to lose a game. We came here with a bit of hope that we could nick something but it wasn't to be."
The Green and White Army were quick to salute Michael O’Neill’s men despite last night’s 2-0 defeat to Germany. There were just under 2,000 fans in Hannover to see the World champions net two quickfire goals inside the opening 20 minutes.