Sunderland manager Roy Keane bemoaned his side's dreadful start to Sunday's clash at Arsenal as the Black Cats eventually slumped to a 3-2 defeat.
Keane's side conceded two early goals before hitting back to make it 2-2 only for Robin van Persie's late strike to ensure the visitors were forced to make the long journey back to Wearside with nothing to show for their efforts.
The former Manchester United star admitted: "Arsenal are a top team and if you don't start well it can be a long afternoon, so when you go two goals down quickly you fear it could be six, seven or eight.
"Coming to any away ground you say keep it tight early on, but it's easier said than done.
"I've got to look at the positives though - we stayed in the game and managed to get a decent first goal and then after getting level we felt we had a chance.
"Arsenal might feel they were unlucky to get pegged back at that stage. But, from our point of view, I thought we showed character and, not just that, there was some decent play from us too.
"We're a pretty decent team, but we know we have to make a step up and we're also aware that the next step up is a big one - getting promoted was the easy part.
"A lot of good players and top managers don't bridge that gap, but that's what we're aiming for at Sunderland and it's my job to make sure we do it.
"When you come to places like Arsenal - even if you're one of the best teams - you need a bit of luck. We had a little bit, but maybe not just enough."