Alan Stubbs offered no excuses as Everton Under-21s bowed out of the Liverpool Senior Cup to Bootle on Monday evening.
Ninety minutes of football could not conjure up a goal, with the young Blues suffering elimination at the semi-final stage following a 7-6 penalty shootout defeat.
Stubbs told evertontv: "The pitch was a real leveller. Our lads are used to playing on carpets and tonight showed that. The ball was bobbling around - that's what you got in the lower regions of the Football League - but there are no excuses.
"It was a test, not of ability because we know we have got far better players, but of character. I'd like to have seen a few more roll their sleeves up and have a bit more of a go."
With many of the young Blues playing for future contracts at the Club, Stubbs said that his players must learn quickly from their experience at the Delta Taxis Stadium.
He continued: "It's definitely a lesson for them. Football doesn't wait for anyone and that's the lesson from tonight. You have to come in as though it's your last day every day.
"It's disappointing as we have lost a game of football but, in the big picture, some of them have to improve.
"It's been a long season and there have been a lot of demands, physically and mentally, on the players.
"We need to refresh them and get them ready for the final games. We've had a couple of disappointing defeats but we will dust ourselves down and go again.
"That's what we'll do as this football club will never stop."