Howe believes the team’s spirits dropped after Giannelli Imbula opened the scoring after only nine minutes with an instinctive volley.
He said: “It is a strange one because the first 10 minutes it seemed to me that we were excellent, camped in their first half and we were all set to watch a really good display.
“It was similar to the Arsenal display really, where a goal comes out of nothing — a wonder-strike from their perspective and then we seemed to lose our way a little bit and our confidence levels.
“We realise we need to be at our best to win games at this level but for that first half we weren’t.
“We were negative with what we were trying to do, our movements with the ball were not quite right and I can only, at this moment, put it down to confidence levels.
Imbula’s goal was his first for Stoke after signing from Porto on transfer deadline day. Manager Mark Hughes was pleased with the 23-year-old’s performance.
“It was a great opening goal from Imbula who I think for the whole game showed the calmness and understanding that was required, he showed signs of a good player who was always in space and always had time for the pass,” said Hughes.
“All in all, apart from the injuries we seem to be picking up at the moment, it was a really positive game.”
Goals from Ibrahim Afellay and Joselu finished off the Cherries, who scored a consolation goal through Matt Ritchie.
Boruc, Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels, Surman, Stanislas (Iturbe 75), Gosling (Ritchie 46), Arter, Pugh (King 46), Afobe.
Butland, Johnson (Joselu 53), Wollscheid, Muniesa (Teixeira 46), Pieters, Whelan, Imbula, Shaqiri, Afellay (Ireland 86), Diouf, Walters.