Joe Root has admitted England were "outplayed in all three departments" after slipping to defeat in the LV=Insurance Test series against New Zealand.
The series defeat was England's first at home since 2014 and Root's first at home as captain. It was also New Zealand's first Test series victory in England since 1999.
But while Root accepted it had been a "disappointing performance" from his side, he insisted it would "be the wrong time to start panicking and trying to rip up all the hard work we've done for such a long period of time."
"It's been a frustrating and disappointing performance this week," Root said. "I don't think we've given a fair account of ourselves. We've been outplayed in all three departments, particularly the batting.
"We didn't get the runs [we should have done] in the first innings. We missed chances in the field and didn't help our bowlers in that respect. And with the bat [in the second innings] we were poor.
"Sometimes in Test cricket you can have a poor session with the ball and you're still very much in the game. But a session that like can cost you a Test. That's where we find ourselves. It's cost us the series and we have some hard lessons to learn.
"We have to look at where we can get better individually and collectively. We need to be honest about that. We have to have some hard conversations and move forward."
England's batting was clearly their biggest issue. James Bracey (with eight runs in three innings), Zak Crawley (with 21 runs in four innings), Ollie Pope (with a top score of 23) and Root himself (who did not pass 42) all struggled despite generally benign batting conditions.
But while Root accepted improvements were necessary, he defended the techniques of his players and suggested England must not abandon the investment they had put into these players ahead of major series against India and Australia. And he took responsibility for failing to lead from the front in a young batting line-up.
"We have to front up, look to get better and learn some hard lessons sometimes," he said. "We've all underperformed this week.
"But we have to be constructive. I think every single one of those guys has proven they can score big Test runs. I think it would be the wrong time to start panicking and trying to rip up all the hard work we've done for such a long period of time. It's something that historically we've done going into big tournaments and big Test series and it's made things even worse.
"There's a huge desire to keep getting better as a team. We know there's talent and ability in the group. Sometimes you really learn about a group of players, going through a difficult period like this. We have had a poor week, a poor series, and have got to front up to that. But it doesn't make them bad players.
"There's been a lot of talk about technique and batting. My view is batting is very much an individual thing. There's no right or wrong way of doing it. Look at the best players in the world: they all have different methods of how they play. How they stand, their bat paths, where they score their runs.
"For me it's more of a metal thing. It's about clarity in their own game and managing passages of play. Managing different bowlers, different angles and conditions and doing that consistently well over an innings and a series. We can be a little bit smarter on occasions. It's somewhere that throughout my career I've got that horribly wrong on occasions.
"As the leading run-scorer within our squad currently I feel like I've put a lot of pressure on those guys by not performing myself. As a captain you pride yourself on getting big runs and leading from the front and I've not managed to follow through on that. So I've probably compounded that situation slightly."
Despite his disappointment, Root refused to blame any sense that his side had been discombobulated by the furore around historic social media posts in the run-up to the game or the absence of those players who had appeared in the IPL
"That [the social media issue] would be a bit of an excuse, to be honest," Root said. "I actually think that once the game came round and the training days came round, we managed to focus solely on the cricket. I don't think that's dripped into the way we played.
"As we have spoken about so many times, we find ourselves in these Covid times and things aren't perfect. They are not ideal. Yes, the whole thing is frustrating from time to time. You want your best players available for every Test. At the minute that's not quite a possibility. That's part and parcel of the world we live in right now. The sooner it can get back to normal the better for a number of reasons.
"We've five more Tests to come this summer and I'd like to think for those Tests we'd have our first XI if all fit. And that's a really exciting prospect as a team and something to look forward to."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo