Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud started on the bench as Eden Hazard was deployed as a false nine, with Willian and Pedro operating on the wings at the Etihad Stadium.
Chelsea did not manage a single shot in the first half and fell behind to Bernardo Silva's effort just 33 seconds after the restart, but Conte did not feel his approach was the reason for their struggles.
"My tactics were not to concede space between the lines, not to concede space to Manchester City because if you do that you risk losing by many goals," the Italian told Sky Sports.
"They have a fantastic mentality without the ball, they want to run, they want to press. They are a really strong team, a really good team with a great mentality and great quality.
"If you give City space behind us the game can finish not 1-0.
"It's not good enough [the lack of shots on target] but this is the truth. I don't think it was because of the tactics but the game was like this and we tried to do our best
"It's not simple in this moment to play against Manchester City. You have to play with great intensity in every moment. We tried to do this, we tried to defend well, but we conceded a goal after 30 seconds of the second half and it was very difficult to come back."
Chelsea were without N'Golo Kante due to illness and the France international's absence played a big role in the defeat, according to Conte.
"Don't forget today we missed N'Golo Kante and he's a crucial player for us and our balance," said Conte.
"The effort was an important effort but this is the reality now. We have to try to continue to work, to try to get three points."