Midfielder Tom Huddlestone says the 2-0 home defeat to Stoke City was a stark reminder of the unforgiving nature of the Championship.
The Tigers were well below par as the Potters came away from the MKM Stadium with all three points courtesy of goals from Jacob Brown and Tom Ince.
“It was difficult,” said Huddlestone.
“I think they played it well. They had Joe Allen sat in with Tom Ince and Sam Clucas either side of him which made it difficult for myself, George (Honeyman) or (Greg) Docherty to engage when they were in possession. They made it very difficult for us to have any time on the ball.
“There’s definitely enough quality in the changing room to get back on a decent run like we were on a few weeks ago.
“The cup game was a bit of a free hit against a Premier League team and even though we lost, I think the performance was relatively decent.
“We came into this game full of confidence but it’s just a reminder that if everybody isn’t 100% on their game with and without the ball then it’s a punishing league as we found out today.”
The Tigers will now turn their attention to two more games this week against high-flying Blackburn Rovers and Bournemouth. Tony Mowbray’s Rovers visit the MKM Stadium on Wednesday, and Huddlestone says the team will have to produce a far better performance to get a result.
“Blackburn are playing amazingly at the moment,” added Huddlestone.
“If you’ve got a striker that’s scored 20 plus goals halfway through the season then you’re doing something right. We’re going to have to be on our A-game. This might be the kick up the backside that we need to go on another decent run.
“They are two teams (Blackburn and Bournemouth) that are flying high in the league and are in great form. We know we’re going to have to be 100% on it both in and out of possession. It’s going to be a good test for us (against Blackburn) but it’s probably the type of game that we need.”