Dowson's side were beaten 48-12 at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens, but the scoreline wasn't a shock considering the away side named a team packed with international performers.
Saints, in contrast, named a group that was far from what they would field in the Gallagher Premiership, but Dowson was keen to give youngsters another opportunity to shine.
And when asked for his reflections on the display, which saw Barbarians move into a 29-0 half-time lead before Saints got things going after the break, Dowson was able to take some positives.
"It was a little bit frustrating because we had loads of opportunities in the first half and didn't convert any," said the Saints boss.
"Every single turnover went the other way, we weren't quick enough on transition so we're a bit disappointed that we conceded so many points in the first half because a lot of that came from turnover.
"Our skill execution wasn't where we'd expect it to be.
"Second half, I thought was a lot better.
"We had a lot of young guys coming in and we've got to bear in mind that some of the young guys haven't even played at Championship level and they're coming up against guys who are disappointed not to be in the World Cup.
"It was obviously a big challenge for the lads and you find out a lot about people when they're under pressure. We were under pressure a lot today.
"Clearly there's things in our defence, our set piece and our attack which weren't where we'd want them to be, but a lot of it was very good and we showed real heart to come back."
The likes of Alex Waller, Paul Hill and Callum Braley were brought back for the Barbarians game after Saints named an even more inexperienced side for a 33-24 defeat at Bedford Blues seven days earlier.
And Dowson says senior stars will continue to be worked back into the squad gradually when the Premiership Cup campaign starts at Ealing Trailfinders next Sunday.
"They very much will be drip-fed," he said.
"Like I've said before, we've got 17 games on the bounce in Europe and the Premiership so we want to manage who we have playing.
"The PRC is a great opportunity for these guys to play week in, week out for the Saints and show what they're capable of.
"Clearly we haven't got the two results we wanted, but there's definite signs of what we've been looking for from a coaching point of view and it's very positive."