Chris Boyd says Saints' performance against Saracens was 'heartening'.
But the boss was frustrated that his side couldn't quite finish the job as they fell to a 38-27 defeat against the champions at Franklin's Gardens.
Tries from Piers Francis, Dylan Hartley and Ben Franks, allied with 12 points from the boot of Dan Biggar, put Saints 27-26 up with 10 minutes to go.
But Saracens battled back, with David Strettle scoring twice late on to seal his side's success, which was their sixth successive win at the Gardens.
And Boyd said: "It's an awful lot of blood, sweat and tears to come away with nothing from an outcome point of view.
"But from a performance point of view there were some bits in there that were really heartening.
"It gives us a good picture to go back to the lads and say 'this is how it needs to be' but there are also times in there where we go back and say 'this is how it shouldn't be'.
"We were in with a chance with 15 minutes to go, but we didn't quite get it right at the end there."
Saints pushed for a late try that would have handed them two points - one losing bonus point and one try bonus point.
But they were unable to take the chance presented by a scrum in front of the posts, leaving Boyd frustrated.
"There were a couple of set pieces that were crucial and if we'd managed to secure the ball from the scrum with a couple of minutes to go, we would have come away with two points," Boyd said.
"To concede that position was disappointing and we'll also reflect on the fact they were penalised seven times for collapsing or interfering with the lineout drive and we did get one try from that but we maybe could have got more.
"There were parts that were good and parts that were a bit rough."