Gareth McAuley accepts Northern Ireland have no option but to put their thrashing at the hands of the Republic of Ireland behind them as they prepare to take on Wales in the Carling Nations Cup on Friday night.
Nigel Worthington's men crashed to a 5-0 defeat in Dublin on Tuesday, as a Robbie Keane-inspired Republic side were able to run riot. Northern Ireland have been forced to compete in the tournament with depleted numbers but will at least be hoping to avoid finishing bottom of the table if they can secure the right result against the Welsh.
Skipper McAuley said: "We've had to move on quickly and try to sweep it under the carpet. But it's one of those things in football. You learn more from those games than you do in the games you win."
He added: "The other night, it was glaringly obvious that we were way off the pace of the game. In saying that, it didn't feel like a 5-0 game - we gave them four of the goals. They only had seven shots on target and scored five.
"But it was a humiliating defeat when you are playing your nearest neighbours."
The heavy loss led to criticism by the media and fans back in Northern Ireland.
McAuley added: "I've been speaking to people back home who are close to me and they have been saying the lads have been getting battered.
"But these are the players who are coming through. Some of them haven't played league football before and they are getting slated. Things like that don't help.
"They will learn as they go along. They will make mistakes and that has to be accepted. It's not an excuse but you've got to do the best you can with the group you have."
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