Brisbane Roar coach John Aloisi conceded a fresher Muangthong United proved to be a difficult opponent for his undermanned side in a 0-0 draw at Suncorp Stadium on Tuesday night.
In Brisbane's opening Group E clash in the AFC Champions League (ACL), the A-League side huffed and puffed but couldn't find a way through the eye-catching visitors from Thailand.
Muangthong had the better of the chances but Aloisi was proud of Roar's performance considering they had a number of regular starters out through injury.
The Thai League champions could have had a penalty in the first half when Dane Ingham pulled back Teerasil Dangda, while Brisbane goalkeeper Jamie Young was the busier of the two glovemen as he made six saves for the match.
But Roar arguably had the best opportunity of the match when teenage striker Nick D'Agostino's volley was parried onto the post by Kawin Thamsatchanan just before the break.
"It was a difficult night. They made it hard for us, they were a good team like we knew they would," he told Fox Sports.
"They were a bit fresher than us and that's their strongest XI, and we had to make a few changes due to injury and fatigue.
"But I can't fault the players. It was a hard night, at least we go something out of it."
Midfielders Matt McKay (broken nose) and Thomas Kristensen (hamstring), plus defenders Corey Brown (hamstring) and Daniel Bowles (knee) were unavailable against Muangthong.
Aloisi also chose to start Jamie Maclaren and Thomas Broich on the bench, while Luke DeVere - who suffered a knock against Perth Glory on Saturday night - was left out altogether.
Brisbane's boss insisted, however, that his younger players - Ingham, Cameron Crestani and Nick D'Agostino started against Muangthong - will benefit from the regular game-time they're getting as Aloisi is forced to rotate his squad for A-League and ACL matches.
"Those boys are now starting games and are going to gain from this experience we're having," Aloisi said.
The draw increases the pressure on Roar to pick up points on the road as their next two ACL fixtures will be away to Ulsan and Kashima Antlers.
But Aloisi was bullish about Brisbane's chances outside Australia after they defeated Shanghai Shenhua 2-0 in China to qualify for the group stage.