MARK HUGHES admits his players were outclassed by title-hopefuls Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening after the Blues inflicted a first defeat in six upon the Welshman's side.
Goals from Mohamed Salah, Frank Lampard and Brazilian international Willian secured all three points for Jose Mourinho's outfit and in the process elevated them back to the summit of the Premier League table.
The Potters, who had recorded four victories and a draw from their previous five league encounters, were never at the races in West London, leaving Hughes with no complaints about the outcome of the game.
"We weren't good enough today truth be told," the former Chelsea player told Stoke City Player following the encounter.
"We came up against a very good team and when that happens you need every player to play at their maximum, and unfortunately today a number of players didn't perform to the levels they are capable of.
"As a consequence of that, it is very difficult to come to a place like Stamford Bridge and influence the game in the manner that you would like.
"We needed a real high-energy game here today and unfortunately for us we just weren't able to produce that.
"You have to give them some credit though because they are a top team and they have quality players who can hurt you."
He added: "We needed to retain the ball better in the attacking areas today, and because we weren't able to do that, Chelsea were able to put us under a lot of pressure. When that happens then it is inevitable that they will score goals."
The City boss doesn't believe the disappointment of the defeat will deter his players from securing a landmark top-half Premier League finish this term, and has backed them to bounce back against Newcastle United next weekend.
"We need to pick ourselves up now and move on from this disappointment - it's important that we do that," the 50-year-old said.
"We have five big games left now this season and we have to be better than this if we are to achieve the objectives that we have set ourselves.
"We have shown that we can be competitive in this league with the results we have produced this season, so we need to dust ourselves down and get ready for Newcastle.
"That will be another tough game for us, but we know that with the quality we have and with our good form at the Britannia Stadium it is a game that we can most certainly get all three points from."