Steve McClaren accepted Newcastle United’s error-strewn start in their 5-1 defeat at Chelsea left them with an impossible task.
Diego Costa, Pedro and Willian put the rampant hosts 3-0 up inside 17 minutes, although Chelsea were ably assisted by some dreadful defensive mistakes within the Newcastle ranks.
Pedro added a second and Bertrand Traore came on for Costa to net a maiden Premier League strike.
Andros Townsend opened his Newcastle account in style, but it was scant consolation as they slipped into the bottom three on goal difference.
“We lost the game in the first 15 minutes. We got exposed on quite a few occasions in terms of defensive frailties,” McClaren told BBC Sport.
“Rolando Aarons had to play at left-back and it was Steven Taylor’s second game in six months.
“We caused our own problems. We knew Chelsea would come out quick. They wanted to win that game by half-time with the week they have ahead of them [Chelsea face Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City in cup competitions].”
McClaren conceded his main concern at the interval was to prevent total collapse and he is looking forward to a break from Premier League action before the challenge of preserving Newcastle’s top-flight status over the remaining 12 matches
“You get one or two of these games a season,” the former England boss added. “I’ve told the players don’t let that derail us. It was damage limitation by half-time. I just wanted to make sure we scored a goal and stayed in the game.
“We have 18 days now – three or four players should return from injury and we can work on others in terms of fitness, and getting some defenders back in.
“We are getting a consistency at home but we need to pick up some points away from home. There are 12 cup finals to come. We’ve got to stay calm and stable.”