Stags skipper John Dempster admitted the side had gone from heroes to zeroes inside a week after Saturday’s 4-1 home humiliation by struggling Hartlepool.
But he said the important thing was how Mansfield Town now reacted to their first defeat in nine games.
Dempster said: “We had that early chance, then Hartlepool scored a cracking goal and we didn’t really recover from that.
“We were second best all-round. I find it difficult to talk about it as I don’t want to make any excuses. We were not good enough.
“We are going to go 1-0 down this season and we have got to react better than we did today. We didn’t react in the right way today, me included.
“We looked a million miles off it to be honest.
“We have been on a good run and we are sitting in a good position in the league. We have set some high standards and we dropped well below them today.
“Credit to Hartlepool. They came here today and gave everything. They kept the ball well at times and scored four half-decent goals. They deserved their win.
“It gave us a slap in the face. We knew before today that all the teams in this league can beat each other – just look at results of late.
“We were heroes last weekend but this weekend feels like we are zeroes.
“The best teams in the world get beaten. It’s how you react. We have done that in the last two and a bit years since the gaffer’s been here.
“We are very disappointed and emotions were running high straight after the game. But we have been doing well of late and now need to get back to that.”