Craig Hignett admits his team were "second best" as they were comprehensively beaten at Barrow in their penultimate National League game of the season.
Pools lost by just a solitary Josh Kay goal in the first half but were played off the park by their fellow mid-table fifth tier opponents at Holker Street.
And Hignett admits he saw signs of the malaise in his squad even before a ball was kicked in Cumbria.
"I am hugely frustrated," said Hignett.
"I said before the game we were not at it in the warm up. I mentioned it to the players. I said you're not on the beach yet, I want a proper performance.
"We were second best all over.
"Fair play to Barrow they were better than us - more craft, more guile.
If you don't want to run about as much as the other team you will struggle against anyone.
"We didn't play like we train."
Hignett says he will not make any snap decisions on the futures of his players on just one performance, but this kind of result does underline the real need to strengthen in what is set to be yet another busy summer at Pools.
"We know where we are. Games like this highlight that," he said.
"It is up to me to improve us as a squad."