Nigel Adkins admitted Saints were given a reality check as they were knocked out of the FA Cup 5-1 by holders Chelsea.
After three back-to-back draws in the Premier League, the last of which came against Arsenal, confidence was high around St Mary’s going into the game.
Saints started well and took the lead through Jay Rodriguez but the second half in particular became a Chelsea procession and left the men in white looking utterly despondent as they struggled to compete.
Saints have to face Chelsea again a week on Wednesday, and this time at Stamford Bridge in the league, but before that it’s a huge match at Aston Villa.
“Sometimes you just give people a bit of a reality check because we have played against some exceptional players and in the second half they were excellent,” said Adkins.
“We’ve hit a Chelsea team in form in the second half of the game but we will pick ourselves up.
“Our destiny is in our own hands. The Opta stats will show how well we are doing and it gives us hope and optimism for the second half of the campaign.”
He added: “I thought we did very well in the first half leading up to the goals just before half time.
“It was a good goal from Jay Rodriguez and a nice bit of football and I thought we started the game very brightly and moved the football about although we maybe didn’t penetrate as much as we wanted to.
“I thought we did really well in the first half but the goals just before half time was not what we needed and second half I think it’s fair to say that Chelsea’s class told in the end.
“I thought they were really good in the second half and we couldn’t get anywhere near them.”
Full match report, reaction and pictures in tomorrow's Daily Echo