Manager Brian Cody insisted his Kilkenny panel can take some positives out of yesterday's Division 1A opener against Clare, despite being pipped by a point in Ennis.
The Cats had six league debutants on show and would have claimed the result had they managed to put away just one of their many goal chances.
They went close on four separate occasions with David McInerney blocking a Mark Kelly effort, Walter Walsh kicked wide from an open goal, top scorer Henry Shefflin (0-12) had a penalty saved and Jonjo Farrell was also denied by goalkeeper Donal Tuohy.
Although unhappy with the 1-16 to 0-18 defeat, Cody will recall that the Cats lost their first two games in last year's Allianz Hurling League before going on to reach the final and be crowned champions.
Giving his reaction afterwards at Cusack Park, the Kilkenny boss said: "Clare's goal made a big difference and we had a few chances we didn't take. It was a good, close game and could have gone either way.
"Clare won it. That's it really. There were a lot of good performances from both teams. We had a lot of inexperienced players but we were in it all the way. The performance wasn't too bad but obviously we'd have preferred to have won it.
"The pitch was heavy but then it couldn't have been any other way after the weather we've had. It was the same for both sides - it certainly didn't give Clare any advantage."
For newcomers like midfielder Padraig Walsh, who scored two points from play, and defenders Michael Walsh, Brian Kennedy and Joey Holden, yesterday's early season outing against the reigning All-Ireland champions should stand to them in the weeks and months ahead.
Cody deemed it 'a good education for some of our players' and said he has 'no plan' regarding how much game-time veteran forward Shefflin, 35, will see during the league campaign.
"There is no plan with regard to Henry or anyone else. We assess the situation with every player as we go along. This is a fierce competitive league.
"Every team is capable of beating each other on a given day. We'd love to win the league. Obviously, we'll look at as many players as we can along the way. There's no big plan. We'll just try to win as many matches as we can and build up a strong panel of players.
"We came down here to win but we didn't. It's as simple as that. We're disappointed with that."
Cody's men host Tipperary at Nowlan Park next Sunday, in what is a repeat of last year's league decider which Kilkenny won by 2-17 to 0-20.