Dave Edwards gave a frank reflection of the Royals' performance against his former club, Wolves, on Tuesday night.
The table-toppers ran out 3-0 winners at Molineux, with the Wales international saying the Royals showed the hosts 'too much respect' in midweek.
Matt Doherty scored a brace for Wolves, with Benik Afobe's slotted finish putting the result beyond doubt on the night in the West Midlands.
“It was a really tough night," Edwards said. "We know what a good team they are, but I just felt that we gave them a bit too much respect.
“We tried our hardest, worked our hardest but the intensity wasn’t quite there. We let them have too much time on the ball – I thought we were able to press them higher up the pitch than what we did.
“Then it comes down to two boxes and we didn’t create anything, really. We have to be braver in their third going forward – it’s hard when you don’t always have the ball for long spells and you don’t want to give it back to them, so you try and make those two or three passes.
“We had to be braver against them, we’ve got to take those risks to try and get anything, a cross, a shot on goal. We didn’t do that, and down the other end – as good a team as Wolves are – they didn’t really have to work too hard for their goals.
“We had a game-plan, and in key moments of the game unfortunately we couldn’t quite execute it.”
Wolves are the runaway leaders in the Championship, having led the league for the majority of the season, but Edwards adds that the Royals could have done more to show themselves well at Molineux.
“They’re a terrific team, probably one of the best teams that the Championship has ever seen, barring the Reading team which did so well!
“There’s giving them respect and then there’s not letting the game pass you by. Big occasion, big stadium, more or less a full house and I don’t feel like we did ourselves justice at all.
“Unfortunately it’s been the story of our season, we’ve got a massive couple of months left, absolutely massive.
“We have to be raring to go, we have to be better than we were against Wolves, people have probably heard this a million times but it’s the business end of the season now and we’ve got to improve fast.
“All eyes now have to be on Norwich, we have to put this game behind us.”
The Royals held their own against the league leaders until the 40th minute, with full-back Doherty putting Wolves ahead as the teams went in at the break.
Edwards said the entire complexion of the game would have been different had the visitors managed to keep the high-flying hosts at bay until the break.
“If you go in at 0-0 I think it’s a different game completely," he continued. "I’ve played at Molineux enough times to know that if you can keep them quiet, the fans will get quite anxious.
“At the time they scored I think they were starting to get that way, even though they had long spells of the ball they didn’t really have any big chances, they didn’t really hurt us.
“I think if we had got to half-time at 0-0, I think we could really have frustrated them and hit them on the counter-attack.
“It’s probably the same as the last four or five games, conceding in key moments. That’s our game management, we have to be better at 40 minutes and thinking to not concede at all costs.
“At 1-0 they can take their time and try and pull you apart a little bit, then when the second goes in at the start of the second half it’s game over, and when the third goes in it’s damage limitation.”