Skipper Joe Lewis reckons naivety contributed to the Dons’ Europa League downfall.
And the goalie is calling on Aberdeen to show character tomorrow as they look to stop a run of three straight defeats when they face Dundee in the last 16 of the Betfred Cup at Dens Park.
It was always going to be a tall order for the Reds to progress from the Europa League third qualifying round tie with Rijeka on Thursday.
Derek McInnes’ side started the second leg 2-0 down from the trip to Croatia last week and were beaten by the same score in the Granite City to exit 4-0 on aggregate.
The volume was cranked up inside Pittodrie early on as the Red Army looked to inspire their side into making a fast start.
But Aberdeen were caught on the counter-attack after only 10 minutes with Stjepan Loncar scoring.
Funso Ojo was sent off 10 minutes later and Antonio Colak doubled Rijeka’s lead on the night before half-time from another break.
For Lewis the frustration was that the Dons were caught on the counter resulting in the game quickly becoming an anti-climax.
The captain, 31, said: “We need to grow up and show a bit more experience for the players we have on the pitch.
“Poor decisions at key times cost us and we went out without making it a fight, really.
“The whole night was an anti-climax because we didn’t deliver.
“I felt at the start of the game we were not as confident with our passing as we should have been and, to be honest, we shot ourselves in the foot straight away with the goal.
“It came from one of our set plays. I think we showed a naivety in a lot of our play.
“We needed to score a goal, we knew that, but we maybe committed too early to that and that played into their hands.
“Rijeka would have known we had to come out and they were probably happy to counter attack.
“We played into their hands in a lot of ways. The naivety in ball watching when the ball came into our box after being caught on the counter was the disappointing thing.
“Then the second goal was almost identical.
“I didn’t feel they troubled us much from open play, but they were clinical when it came to punishing us from our own set plays.
“You can’t afford to do that in Europe, if you’re naive and ball watch you pay the price.
“The second half was a non-event, we can’t dress it up any other way.
“I would love to talk about positives but you can’t when you go out in that fashion because we didn’t give ourselves a chance.
“It was always going to be a big task but we felt we had it in us before the game, but we just didn’t perform.”
Aberdeen will need to recover quickly as they head to Dens Park tomorrow in the last 16 of the League Cup and Lewis added: “We have to show real character tomorrow.
“We will be favourites to win the game, so it will be about bravery and character to come back from what has been a disappointing week. I know that character is in there, we have the right mentality in the squad.
“The supporters will turn up in their numbers to give us their backing and we have to deliver a performance so they’ve got something to be happy about.”
The Dons were frustrated to see Ojo dismissed after just 20 minutes on Thursday by Austrian ref Harald Lechner for trips on Maxwell Acosty and Luka Capan.
Although disappointed by the decisions for the midfielder’s yellow cards, Lewis says Aberdeen can’t blame the ref for their Euro exit.
He said: “Funso was unlucky to get two yellow cards.
“I didn’t think either of them were standout yellow cards, but it’s European football and referees see things like that as yellow cards.
“That is the fact of the matter, it’s what happens at this level and you have to be aware of it.
“As much as there were some frustrating decisions out there, you can’t blame the ref.
“We had 11 men on the pitch when we conceded the first goal, that wasn’t down to refereeing decisions.
“But you can’t lay the blame for being knocked out on anyone but ourselves.”