AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe reflected on a clinical display of quality from Manchester City after Manuel Pellegrini's side ran out 4-0 winners at the Vitality Stadium.
City's Premier League title challenge has faded over recent weeks after a run of one win in six matches prior to Saturday's clash, but the League Cup winners were galvanised by the return of Belgium international star Kevin De Bruyne from a knee injury.
After Fernando's seventh-minute opener, De Bruyne volleyed a brilliant second and was involved in most of City's eye-catching forward play - including threading the pass for Jesus Navas to cross and Sergio Aguero to effectively end the contest after 19 minutes.
Howe praised Bournemouth's commitment to avoiding further damage until De Bruyne's replacement, Aleksandar Kolarov, added a fourth deep into stoppage time.
"Any defeat is a difficult one to take, certainly when you concede like we did in the first half," How told a post-match news conference.
"It was a tough afternoon and I think when you go 3-0 down so early in the game it's very difficult to react in that moment.
"We hung in there, we didn't let our heads drop and that's the positive from the day.
"It was a mixture of a good performance from them and us not being quite right. They showed their quality."
Howe lamented his side's vulnerability in terms of conceding early goals, having suffered a similar fate in the 3-0 defeat to high flying Tottenham and when City dealt out a 5-1 beating at the Etihad Stadium in October.
"The game becomes very, very difficult because they're so good at keeping the ball and your players are, naturally, slightly deflated," he added.
"It's been a difficult two games and we need to learn from that.
"The first goal really is poorly executed corner. We didn't deal with the first ball and the lad's hooked it in.
"In goals two and three they showed real class, showed the individual players that they've got are of a very high quality. They took the goals very well.
"We got into some good moments ourselves during the match and didn't show the same ruthlessness they did.
"I think in all areas they were better than us. We have to accept that. They're the team that we want to become."
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