England coach Roy Hodgson admitted his side may never be able to bridge the gap in technical ability to Spain after losing 2-0 to the European champions on Friday.
Defeat was England’s first in 15 games since a disappointing exit after just two matches at the World Cup in Brazil.
However, Hodgson’s men failed to cope with Spain’s composure on the ball before a stunning opener from Mario Gaspar and Santi Cazorla’s cool finish handed the hosts victory in the final 20 minutes.
“Most teams that play against Spain there is a gap,” said Hodgson.
“The opposing team has less possession of the ball because they are so good technically and pass the ball so well.
“That gap may always exist, we knew that and knew we had to work very hard defensively to stop them using that ability to create goalscoring opportunities, which we managed to do for the best part of the game.
“If you say are we going to be able to match them in that unbelievably clever passing way perhaps we can’t, but we don’t need to do that.
“We saw they had a disappointing World Cup like ourselves, but they are a good team and we’ve got work to do.
“I hope of course in the months ahead with a stronger squad to choose from we’ll become better.”
Hodgson left captain Wayne Rooney on the bench in favour of a youthful triumvirate of Harry Kane, Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling in attack.
However, they failed to overly trouble the Spanish backline as the visitors only came close to scoring when Rooney clipped the bar and Kane forced Iker Casillas into a smart save in stoppage time.
“The (opening) goal came at the wrong time and gave Spain a deserved victory,” added Hodgson.
“We are left to rue the fact that at the moment we are short on the ground, especially when it comes to midfield and forward players.
“We just have to learn our lesson from it and remember that when you are playing against teams of this quality you can’t afford to make any technical mistakes in the wrong areas because you are going to get punished.”
Hodgson was unable to call on the likes of Theo Walcott, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, James Milner and Jamie Vardy through injury.
And he fears Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick coud also be set for a spell on the sidelines after he was carried off in the second-half.
“It doesn’t look good, he’s got a severely twisted ankle and that normally means ligament damage.
“We won’t know that of course until he’s had an x-ray or a scan, but it doesn’t look good.”
England are due to face France in a friendly at Wembley on Tuesday.
However, the game is now in doubt after a series of horrific attacks in Paris on Friday night, including outside the Stade de France as France beat Germany, killed at least 128 people and left another 180 injured.
A spokesman for the English Football Association said they would liaise with their French counterparts over the weekend before taking a decision on whether the game will go ahead.