Karl Robinson felt the 2-0 scoreline flattered Middlesbrough as Dons lost at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.
Second half goals from former England internationals Stewart Downing and David Nugent were ultimately the difference on Teeside, though Simon Church hit the post for the visitors at 0-0.
And with both goal-scorers dropping down from the Premier League to join Aitor Karanka’s side, Robinson was left to rue what might have been.
“They’re worth more than my whole team, aren’t they?!” he said. “All we can do is keep working hard and the results will come.
“I don’t think the score reflects the game at all.
“We had the best chance of the game at 0-0. I don’t know what Simon Church has to do to get a goal - he’s hit the post twice for us, and had one ruled offside for Wales. He’s so close to the goal we feel he deserves.
“I watched Middlesbrough four times in the build-up to this game and they barely had a chance before their goal. The best one was ours.
“We looked assured. In the final third, we were lackluster with the ball. We denied them space, and I think we’ve played well.
“It was a wonder-goal, and an error, but they happen. I’m not overly disappointed.”
The defeat was Dons second in succession, and third in six this season - a stark contrast to the free-scoring football fans were used to in League 1 last season.
But with the step up in standards in the Championship, Robinson says he’d still rather be pitting his wits against teams in second tier than running riot in the third.
“I’d rather have this than dominate games in League 1. We’ve got to be careful what we wish for. Today has refuelled our excitement. This is one of the top three teams, and we didn’t deserve to get beaten 2-0.
“We felt if they shot from 30 yards, Dave will stop them. If it sails into the top corner, that’s the quality they possess. My players couldn’t do much more. Middlesbrough were very impressed with us.
“But we have to be far more potent in the final third. With a little bit of luck, we’d have nicked it 1-0.
“When you look at their final third: Nugent, Downing, Reach, Fabbrini - how can we compete with that?
“We need more belief in the final third.”