Gerardo Martino has admitted that Atletico Madrid were superior to Barcelona for parts of Wednesday's Supercopa de Espana encounter at the Vicente Calderon, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
A David Villa strike against his former team gave the hosts the lead early on, but Neymar - who replaced Lionel Messi at half-time - restored parity halfway through the second half.
Nevertheless, Martino was quick to acknowledge that the Madrid side made life difficult for Barcelona with their gameplan.
"Atletico were the superior side during parts of the game. The 1-1 draw is a result that does justice to what happened on the pitch. The match had very distinct parts, they dominated the first half and we dominated the second," he said at a press conference.
"It was very hard for Messi and any of the other attacking midfield players out there because they found it hard to get the ball. It was hard for them to find space as both teams defended well and Atletico kept it tight.
"It was difficult to get forward as easily as we sometimes do, so occasionally we had to try long balls to reduce Atletico's defensive power.
"If we had just played short balls it would have been easier for them to predict but with the long ball we could get one-on-one a bit easier. That was probably the reason we played more long balls than we usually do in a game."
The Argentine coach then went on to discuss Messi's physical situation and confirmed the prolific attacker will undergo further examination on Thursday.
"He Messi had a knock and then a muscle problem so we will do the required examinations to see how serious it is," Martino said.
"It didn't make sense to keep him on the field if he couldn't move comfortably."
Martino refused to say whether Barcelona were interested in signing Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas, who was benched for his team's La Liga opener.
"If he is not the best goalkeeper in the world, then he is the second best. That's my opinion on him but it has nothing to do with anything in regards a transfer.
"I am not the person to comment on the rumours at the moment."