Mark Hughes was in a philosophical mood after Saints were beaten 3-0 by Derby in pre-season, but admitted it is important his squad now “step up” their preparations.

Saints were well beaten by Frank Lampard’s Rams at Pride Park with Hughes’ team a week behind them in terms of their build-up for the new campaign and with players yet to return.

However, the fact that defensive frailties were still on show and Saints couldn’t muster a goal has sent out a warning shot.

Hughes said: “It’s pre-season. Clearly we want to do better than we showed but credit to Derby, they look in good nick and are a week ahead of us and that makes a difference at this stage.

“I have to say they were nice and bright and at times we weren’t bright enough.

“We have got a good week next week when we go away and we have got to look to get the sharper elements of our play up to speed. We have only been back a couple of weeks and with the travel we’ve had we’ve had to concentrate on being a little bit careful with them.

“We can look to good work now. We have had just a week back home which has helped us but on today’s showing we need a little bit more.”

He added: “There is a little bit of a lack of intensity and anticipation and a lot of that is to do with timing.

“When you are in a good run of form and into the games those moments and situations happen and you recognise them quickly and you do something about it but we were a little bit slow in terms of our anticipation.

“We need to step up. We have had three games now, we have conceded too many goals than I would like so we still need to do the fundamentals right in terms of getting the defensive work right.

“I am glad that the situations that could have been addressed have been highlighted so we can highlight that and learn from them.”

Hughes gave Saints debuts to summer signings Moi Elyounoussi and Jannik Vestergaard, with the latter making an error that cost Saints a goal, but it wasn’t anything that unduly worried Hughes.

“He’s a big guy but he’s got a good appreciation of a pass,” reflected Hughes.

“There was one incident where he mistimed but that’s just a timing issue so he will be ok.

“Sometimes you worry about maybe coming from a different type of league but from the Bundesliga to the Premier League is probably the best transition you can have.

“There is stuff to work on and that’s what pre-season is for.”