Paul Holland praised the effort of his young Ilkeston side after defeat to Workington on Saturday but acknowledged they were firmly second best in the 2-0 loss.
Missing several key players due to injury, suspension and unavailability, the Robins were unable to worry the Reds too much and a goal in each half was enough to secure the Cumbrians three points.
And Holland was left counting the cost of having to field such a youthful team.
He said: “Today’s shown how far we have to go when it comes to aspiring to be a side like Workington who are always at the top end of the table.
“I can’t fault the lads’ effort as they gave it all they’ve got, but they know they have to improve quickly.
“We have a tough game at Stourbridge on Monday and it’ll most likely be a very similar side that we put out.
“It’s something we have to deal with. If we’re missing certain players then we’re left with young ones and we have to get them to a certain level.
“The fans were great today. The majority want us to do well and we will give our all for those fans as it’s them that keep the club going.”
Attention now turns to Monday’s game at Stourbridge, with Holland adding: “They’ve had a great cup win since we last played them but we’ll set up and prepare properly and I’m sure we can give them a good game.”