Ange Postecoglou was disappointed to concede the opening goal as Melbourne Victory lost 2-1 at home to Western Sydney on Saturday.
The Victory started strongly in the showdown between the second and third-placed teams in the A-League, with the hosts dominating the early exchanges at AAMI Park.
But it was the Wanderers who broke the deadlock through Iacopo La Rocca, with Shinji Ono adding a second after the break.
And although substitute Connor Pain pulled one back with 15 minutes to go, the Victory proved unable to force an equaliser in the time remaining.
"Early on we had some pretty good moments and we needed to get that first goal," Victory coach Postecoglou said.
"In big games, first goals count for a fair bit."
"It was decent game, high tempo. Good crowd in, good atmosphere and had the feeling of a big game."
Goal-scorer Pain came on for Marcos Flores early in the second half, and promptly vindicated Postecoglou's decision, beating Jerome Polenz for pace and strength before scoring past former Victory goalkeeper Ante Covic.
"I knew young Connor could bring on some energy for us," Postecoglou said.
"With Andrew (Nabbout) in the middle, he's always a threat when he receives it. So I felt we needed to be a little bit more mobile. We had to take the game to them. We were 1-0 down and chasing the game and I just thought we needed to be a little bit more threatening."
The defeat leaves Victory five points behind the Wanderers and six back from first-placed Central Coast Mariners.
And while they remain on course to feature strongly in the finals, Postecoglou still wants his team to push hard in a bid to climb the table over the last six matches of the regular season.
"There are plenty of other sides who would be happy to be in our position but we're not," he said.
"That's not what we're about.
"It was a disappointing night for us, particularly at home, we've been really good all year and we need to be better at home and win these kind of games. From our perspective, there's no point feeling sorry for ourselves. (We have) just got to get back to work and make sure we rebound next year.
Debutant Daniel Mullen was withdrawn just past the hour mark, with Postecoglou keen to ease the new recruit back to full fitness following his return to Australia from the Chinese Super League.
"It's his first game," he said.
"We're obviously changing the team a fair bit over the course of this year. I think he's the 17th player to make his debut for us.
"So, we've still got six important games to go and to keep him out there any longer than an hour would have been a little bit silly for us. That's 60 minutes for him. I thought he was good while he played and I'm sure he'll be an asset for us moving forward."