Gary Caldwell gave an honest assessment as a young City side suffered a heavy 9-0 dismantling at the hands of Reading in the EFL Trophy.
It was a tough night for the Grecians, with several of the players making their first ever first-team appearances, and Caldwell hopes it will be a learning curve for many of the squad.
"It is a harsh lesson for our younger players," Gary said.
"It wasn't a first team tonight aside from those who we needed to give minutes. We have all had these experiences - I did as a player - and they need to learn from these and use them as motivation to come back and work hard.
"That is the harsh reality of tonight, but we will recover from this and do something about it. I've told them they will remember this evening for the rest of their lives - use that.
"This was an opportunity to get experience into young players - it wasn't a good one but they will learn and we will support them in doing that. They will have another opportunity against Arsenal and against Swindon.
"I believe in our younger players and in our academy."
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