Luciano Spalletti bemoaned the lack of class in possession which hindered a lacklustre Inter during their 0-0 home draw against Sassuolo.
Inter were fortunate to escape with a point from their first Serie A fixture of 2019 after conceding the best of the chances to a well-organised Sassuolo.
Goalkeeper Samir Handanovic was forced into five saves at San Siro including a crucial close-range denial of Jeremie Boga in stoppage time.
The result left Inter, who have been linked with a January move for Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil, at risk of slipping seven points behind second-placed Napoli.
"It was a tough night because Sassuolo played a good game," Spalletti said of Saturday's sub-par showing.
"We couldn't control the game. Even when we did well to get the ball back, we then lost it again too quickly meaning that we were unable to make the most of the moment and get men over.
"We needed to do better in those situations before their defence could settle in place. We didn't have enough quality on the ball and you need that against sides like Sassuolo who run a lot.
"We were overwhelmed by their defensive line and Sassuolo also caused us some problems. In the end, we also ran the risk of losing.
"However, you always have to look at the glass half full and we need to keep getting results to avoid running the risk of other teams catching us up.
"We need to keep working and improving, we also want to do well in the Europa League and the Coppa Italia in order to consolidate our status."
Inter's failure to find a way through the visitors was surprising given Sassuolo had shipped nine goals in their final two Serie A fixtures last year.
Sassuolo boss Roberto De Zerbi commended his players on keeping the hosts at bay with relative comfort.
"We made a real team performance with the right focus and concentration in all areas of the field," De Zerbi said.
"I'm satisfied. It was only a pity not to make more of our opportunities."