COACH JOHN PERKINS thinks Stoke City's Under-18s 1-0 defeat to Manchester United was a reality check for the youngsters after they were second-best throughout Tuesday's encounter.
After two wins to start the season and an unfortunate defeat to Newcastle United last week, they were outplayed by the Red Devils and Perkins thinks the game brings into focus the challenges they will face in the coming months.
"We were playing against possibly one of best youth teams around at the present time," he admitted afterwards when he spoke exclusively with stokecityfc.com.
"They have talented players, some who cost a significant amount of money - the first-team are in the same league as Manchester United and we have to try and deal with it.
"We are Stoke City - we are who we are. We're not Man United, we're not Everton, and we're not Liverpool."
The Potters worked hard to keep the score line down to one and Perkins praised the efforts of his goalkeeper and back four.
"Defensively we were very sound, very solid - there are only three teams in the entire Academy league who have a better defensive record than us.
"I thought Dale Eve was outstanding, I thought Ryan O'Reilly was outstanding - they're two excellent young players who would make it into any top, young side.
"That's a great thing to build on, but now we've got to work on our front play and our midfield play, getting on the ball and creating more chances and generally being better in the final third."
It's a quick turnaround for the team as preparations begin for the visit of Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, and Perkins hopes to have a wider berth of players to select from.
"We had four players out on Tuesday - it's not an excuse, but that was hard for us." he said.
"Hopefully we'll have one or two of the injured players back by then, and we can get back to the sort of strength that we showed before."