St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright was bemused by his team’s sluggish start in their 2-1 defeat to Aberdeen.
The Perth men were 2-0 down at the break but came back into the match through a Danny Swanson penalty after the re-start.
But, despite Wright’s disappointment, with the post-split fixtures looming Saints retain a four-point advantage on Hearts in the push for fourth place.
Wright said: “I thought we showed them too much respect. We sat off them, never got in about them and made it too easy.
“I was disappointed in the two goals we conceded. We should have done better. They summed up the first 35 minutes for us.
“I thought we got more into it and started the second half really well and played on the front foot a lot. But in the end neither keeper was worked in the second half, even though we got into really good positions.”
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes praised his players for showing the resilience required to bounce back from their shock 3-0 loss to Rangers.
The second-placed Dons shipped three late goals against Gers last weekend to suffer only their second home defeat of the season, a result which allowed the Glasgow club to cut the gap between the pair to nine points.
However, they got back on track at the first opportunity as Ryan Christie’s strike and a Tam Scobbie own goal sent them on their way.
McInnes said: “I thought the players dealt with the game brilliantly. We pressed well and controlled the game in that opening 35 minutes. We deservedly got two goals.
“The appetite we had was everything I wanted because this could have been a really difficult game coming here, especially after last week.
“The competitive aspect of St Johnstone is always there. They never know when they are beat so it was important we kept going.”