Bath head coach Steve Meehan was quick to give his young players an A-plus for effort after an 11-6 home defeat against Wasps - but admitted that the loss of key players to injury and to England had blunted his attacking options.
Meehan gave academy flanker Guy Mercer his first Aviva Premiership start in the continued absence of England captain Lewis Moody and injured club skipper Luke Watson. Aaron Jarvis also came in at tighthead while Jack Cuthbert returned from Scotland A duty at outside centre.
And the coach said: "We've got to be realistic about it. A lot of young guys are getting a lot more experience so there are some positives. They are getting more and more comfortable and understanding more and more about the demands of Premiership rugby."
He added: "We know that if we keep plugging away and we keep bringing players back we will improve as a squad and as a team. We saw what happened last year. You've got to believe in yourselves and travel down the road you have chosen."
Asked if the absence of Butch James, Shontayne Hape and Matt Banahan was proving a big handicap, Meehan admitted: "As good a job as the others are doing and as much effort as they are putting in - and their dedication has been brilliant - those guys are not playing for England for no reason.
"We need a little bit more punch. There's no doubt about that. We need a little bit more drive from our midfield and we need a little bit more voice from the guys on the outside. Obviously it's disappointing to lose but if you concentrate only on the result you are going to go away and kick the dog for the rest of the weekend.
"The fact of the matter is that the young guys out there did a bloody good job and are trying very, very hard."
Wasps director of rugby Tony Hanks was more than satisfied with a victory that lifts them into sixth place. "It's a difficult place to come and win and in difficult conditions. We really defended like a Wasps team should," he said.
"Our front five have come under fire this year but really fronted up."
He added: "Next week is going to be very tough against Exeter. We won't be taking them lightly this time."