Preston boss Graham Westley believes his side's 3-1 Capital One Cup third-round defeat to Middlesbrough has no bearing on their promotion push - claiming they're still a work in progress.
First-half goals from Andrew Halliday and Merouane Zemmama put the Championship side in control and while Jack King pulled one back for North End before the break, Richard Smallwood's tap-in on the hour killed them off.
Preston will now turn their attentions back to promotion from League One but after an indifferent start following a summer of overhaul, Westley's side lie 11th in the table ahead of a clash with Yeovil on Saturday.
He said: "We were unlocked by a very good, quality side. Does it scare me to think we need to compete at that level if we get promotion? No.
"We produced good performances and results against Crystal Palace and Huddersfield, and Middlesbrough were the best of the three we've faced.
"I'm sure if they don't get promotion to the Premier League they'll come very close to it.
"We had our moments and created our chances and it seemed like things were going to go in our favour but then we gave them a third goal and the whole place seemed to die."
- Merouane Zemmama