Jim Mallinder admits his Saints side didn’t seem to know where they were going in their defeat at Harlequins.
Mallinder’s men were beaten 20-9 at The Stoop on Saturday as they failed to score a single try against a fired-up home team.
Instead, they only had three Stephen Myler penalties to show for their efforts as Quins ended a seven-match losing streak against Saints.
They had not beaten Northampton since May, 2013 but never really looked in danger of tasting an eighth successive defeat.
And Mallinder said: “The last two or three weeks we’ve been playing well with some really good shape, but today we didn’t seem to know where we were going.
“We lost the physical battle so we didn’t manage to get on the front foot and I guess a lot of that was down to the pressure Quins were putting us under.
“It was a poor performance from us today.
“We talked about coming here and controlling the game away from home, playing in the right parts of the pitch and keeping our discipline. We didn’t achieve any of those today.
“We always knew we’d be up against a fired-up Harlequins side and they like to play a fairly loose game, getting the ball wide, and they do it well.
“We knew what was coming and I think we defended pretty well for long periods.
“Some of our defence was outstanding, some of our contact work was really good, we got some really good turnovers at times, but it was in attack that frustrated me most.
“We couldn’t keep hold of the ball, we got turned over after one or two phases and could never get into any pattern of shape.”
Saints had looked to be building some momentum after good performances against Wasps and Exeter.
And Mallinder said: “We did feel that we were building and even though results hadn’t been going all our way, the performances had been pretty good.
“It is a setback this week, it was a poor performance and we certainly need to improve for the two weeks (of Champions Cup action) coming up.”