Massimiliano Allegri admitted seven-time champions AC Milan were lucky to escape with a share of the points from a scoreless draw at the San Siro against UEFA Champions League minnows Anderlecht.
The Belgian side are considered the whipping boys in a Group C which also includes Zenit Saint Petersburg and Malaga, who beat the Russians 3-0 to go top of the group on Tuesday.
However John Van den Brom's men were solid throughout the match and dominated a first half in which they came close to claiming a shock opener.
"They surprised me, they were good in the first half but perhaps they paid for the energy they had spent once we were into the second," admitted Allegri.
AC Milan lost the spine of their squad when several key players were either sold or retired in the summer.
And with Brazilians Pato and Robinho still sidelined, Allegri's current team is unrecognisable to the side which made it to the quarter-finals last season before finishing runners-up to Juventus in the domestic league.
Allegri's job of replicating the exciting Milan squads of the past is therefore no easy task.
And the fact Milan have failed to win at the San Siro this season, losing twice in the league either side of a 3-1 away win at Bologna, is a statistic that club president Adriano Galliani will not welcome.
In the end, however, Allegri was happy with a draw: "We didn't concede a goal, and I saw improvements from several players."
That is unlikely, however, to relieve the pressure. Against such a comparatively small team as Anderlecht the 80,000 capacity San Siro was never going to be full.
But the fact it was less than half full is perhaps a reflection of the Rossoneri fans' growing frustration.
After being dominated in the first half Milan came fighting back in the second period but Allegri's side were ultimately left frustrated after failing to convert a string of chances.
Milan have twice been crowned European champions after playing Anderlecht early in the competition, but going on this performance few neutral observers will believe in a similar outcome.
Allegri added: "The fact we've had a mediocre start to the season has perhaps affected our morale."
Belgian champs do their homework
Anderlecht had sent observers to all three of Milan's Serie A games and based their tactics on exploiting a team which coach John Van den Brom labelled as "clearly lacking in confidence".
He said they are not in the competition to dish out favours.
"Milan's problem is not my problem. I sent people to watch their last three games and they all came back with the same conclusions," added Van den Brom.
"They have a good team with good players but they also give chances away and give space away.
"We used the spaces they gave away on the pitch when it was possible. That was why I gave my team big compliments tonight.
"We based our tactics on what we've seen of Milan. It seems the players are not totally relaxed and it seems clear they lack confidence."
Allegri, whose team face Zenit on 3 October, knows if they are to improve they must first find the net,
He said: "But the simple fact is if you don't score, you don't win and that's something we have to improve on. We're lucky not to have conceded a goal."