Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson denied his players were not mentally tough enough for the challenge Stoke presented them with as their six-match unbeaten run ended with a 2-0 defeat at the Britannia Stadium.
He also expressed his disappointment that some fans chose to chant the name of former player-boss Kenny Dalglish towards the end.
The Reds were second-best throughout and fell behind when Ricardo Fuller poked home in a scramble resulting from Rory Delap's long throw before Kenwyne Jones wrapped things up in the 90th minute and Lucas Leiva was sent off for a second bookable offence.
"I'm sad a good run has come to an end," said Hodgson. "It was always going to be a tough task and I knew we would be hard-pushed to win that battle but I thought we dealt well with the pressure reasonably well. Once they scored it was going to be an even further uphill battle.
"It would be a very unfair accusation that we lacked the mental strength or courage, as our defending from so many of the throws and set-plays proved.
"I thought we stood up as well as we could be expected to considering the pressure we were under. I don't think the players threw the towel in and never looked like throwing the towel in."