Andy Rinomhota said the Royals were left frustrated after their 3-2 defeat at home to Birmingham City on Saturday, not least because the squad know how much better they are able to play as a unit.
A battling first half yielded little in the way of chances for either side, until Jude Bellingham's strike from outside the area was heavily deflected by Michael Morrison, taking the ball beyond Rafael into the far corner in a cruel piece of luck against the centre-back.
Yakou Méïté's powerful header levelled proceedings before the break at Madejski Stadium, but a rocket of a free-kick from Jeremie Bela left Rafael with no chance, and put Birmingham ahead once more.
With Reading chasing a leveller, Blues countered quickly and scored a third with two minutes left of normal time, with Alvaro Giménez initially having his shot blocked by Morrison, only for the ball to come back into his path for him to finish into the far corner.
Lucas João bundled in from close range for the Royals deep into stoppage time, but time ran out for Reading to find a late leveller on Saturday afternoon - with Rinomhota expressing his disappointment at the overall showing from the side.
"I think it was a poor performance all around today," Rinomhota said after the final whistle. "I don't think we really got started.
"We carried that on into the second half. We got a little bit better, but that was nowhere near how we can play. We'll expect to be doing a lot better in the games to come.
"All three goals were frustrating. The first one, Morro has put in a tackle and it could go anywhere really. Normally that sort of tackle can go out for a corner, but it's just looped into the far corner of the goal.
"The second one was right in the top corner, we can't do anything about that. Then the third one, we tackled him and it just fell perfectly for him to finish.
"They were really unfortunate goals, but we weren't at it today and we can't really blame it on that. We just need to perform better.
"It was the same team that started at Wigan, but we just didn't start right today and after the bad start, we didn't get on the front foot.
"We couldn't get a foothold in the game and, when you concede, it's a setback again. Our goal came too late in the end and we couldn't get the third.
"We've got a lot of games coming up so we can't really dwell on it too much. We'll take away whatever positives we can, reflect on the negatives and try and make sure we don't make any of these mistakes again in the games that come.
"We have got a lot of games, so it's vital that we kick on and perform better from the off in the next games."