Scotland skipper Mike Blair admitted he was lost for words after the RBS 6 Nations defeat by Ireland.
Blair was handed the armband after Jason White was ruled out by concussion, but the scrum-half found the responsibility of addressing his team-mates hard to bear after the Scots had failed to build on their promising start.
Scotland dominated possession and territory in the first period but were undone by two Irish tries from David Wallace and Robert Kearney in a four-minute spell midway through the half.
The hosts barely got out their own half in the first 10 minutes of the Croke Park game but Scotland could not make their pressure count.
And Simon Webster’s try, Scotland’s first of the championship, came during a second half that Ireland controlled as they ran in three more scores to complete a 34-13 triumph.
Blair said: “It was a hard thing to do at the end of the game, to speak to the guys.
“You don’t know what to say because that first half I thought we played some excellent stuff without having that finishing touch.”
After two convincing defeats against Wales and France, Scotland set out to play more positive, running rugby.
The Edinburgh scrum-half felt Scotland had produced the flying start they sought and found it hard to accept that it was Wallace who broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute.
“We talked about playing at a pace the Irish couldn’t handle,” Blair said. “If they hadn’t scored that soft try the first time they were in our 22 then who knows.
“I judge the pace of the game by how tired I am personally and I was blowing after 20 minutes. That shows we are playing at a high tempo.
“If we can keep it up, we can challenge against these teams. But we didn’t have the clinical edge, the finishing that Ireland had.
“It just seemed like their strike runners went through - when they had the opportunities they scored some points.”
However, with England to face at Murrayfield on March 8, Blair eventually found words of encouragement for the Scots.
The 26-year-old said: “It was hard to know what to say but the message we are trying to get across is we had the majority of the game and we need to maintain that.”