Steve Bruce admitted his Sunderland side couldn't live with Chelsea on the night after losing 3-1 at home to the title favourites on Tuesday.
Darren Bent's second goal in as many games since joining the Black Cats had put the home side into a half-time lead at the Stadium of Light.
But a storming fightback from Chelsea ultimately saw them run out comfortable winners on Wearside.
"When I looked at it, the last thing I wanted was Chelsea at home in my first game and for Chelsea to play like that," said Bruce.
"But we all aspire to get to the very, very top and they are the very, very top.
"They have very good players and the system they played - there has been much talk about it - we found it very, very difficult to play against.
"It seemed at times as if we'd had a man sent off, we found it that difficult."
Meanwhile, Bruce has revealed he remains hopeful of completing the signing of Lyon's Ghana defender John Mensah on a season-long loan.