Phillip Cocu admitted Derby County have given themselves a mountain to climb when facing the Sky Bet Championship’s promotion chasers following Saturday afternoon’s 3-1 loss to Brentford.
Ollie Watkins gave Brentford an early lead after Bryan Mbeumo's shot had hit the post.
However, Jason Knight ran onto skipper Wayne Rooney's pass to fire home an equaliser before the break.
Brentford were back in front straight after the break when Said Benrahma's shot squirmed through the hands of Rams goalkeeper Ben Hamer, before Benrahma’s stunning strike from distance just after the hour mark then sealed all three points for the visitors.
Derby are yet to take all three points against a side currently occupying a top-six spot so far this season and Cocu says his side must stop making life difficult for themselves.
The Dutchman believes his side are not far away from turning that statistic around, but in order to do that they must improve the fine details in their game.
With three matches remaining, the Rams are three points adrift of Cardiff City in the final play-off spot and they will travel to the Welsh capital to face the Bluebirds on Tuesday evening (7:45pm kick-off).
“We played good football todayl, showed good desire to work to defend, give our best until the last second of the game; I can’t blame the team for that,” Cocu told RamsTV after the loss to Brentford.
“Again, against a top team, it was alright but not good enough. Too many mistakes are made against those teams, they are effective if you compare them with us.
“You cannot score three goals every game to try and get something out of it, but we had some opportunities to get back in the game where we didn’t score.
“We scored a fantastic goal and I believe in the second-half as well we really got into good positions, we intercepted and forced them to make errors, but we didn’t get the goal.
“It is frustrating because you have the feeling that we are not far off, but we must improve details in our game and the small mistakes.”
He added: “They scored at the right moments, especially the second goal just after half-time and also after three minutes at the start of the game.
“We put them in the driving seat, and it was tough to come back in the game. That is just the details that is holding us back from getting good results against teams above us.”
Cocu admitted that Hamer, following his mistake for Brentford’s second goal, accepted full responsibility for his error in the dressing room after the game.
The Derby boss was quick to highlight that, as a team, they should have done better for that goal and refused to point the finger of blame at the shot-stopper.
“It is disappointing,” he said. “Ben apologised and took full responsibility of the mistake.
“It is easy to blame Ben, but just after the break the opponent was able to get into a position to take a shot inside our 18-yard and that is something for the team to take a look at.”