James Tomkins admitted scoring his first goal of the season meant next to nothing as West Ham United slumped to a 2-1 Barclays Premier League defeat at Wigan Athletic.
By the time the defender nodded in George McCartney's cross in the third minute of added-time, the Hammers had left it too late to get anything from their trip to the DW Stadium.
A strangely subdued first-half performance allowed Wigan to take an eighth-minute lead through Ivan Ramis' fierce volley from a Jean Beasejour corner. Any hopes that Sam Allardyce's half-time team talk would change the course of the game were then dashed when James McArthur took advantage of a loose ball inside the visitors' penalty area less than two minutes after the re-start.
To West Ham's credit, they did create a succession of half-chances before Tomkins himself saw his goal-bound volley deflected on to the crossbar by lunging Latics captain Gary Caldwell. The No5 then found the back of the net, but found little solace in his first goal of 2012/13.
"It was a shame that my goal didn't mean anything," said Tomkins, who started at right-back for the second successive match. "Their first goal was a one-off really. It was a good quality goal, while the second was a bit lucky the way it fell to them.
"All in all, it was a bad day for us and we should have played a lot better than we did. We are paying for it now because we lost a game that we came into full of confidence. We fully expected to get the three points but it didn't work out like that."
The defender admitted that the Hammers had paid for making a slow start at Wigan, having escaped punishment for a similarly lethargic first-half display against Southampton the previous weekend.
Against the Saints, West Ham were able to turn around while still on level terms and pull away in the second half. At Wigan, the Hammers fell behind early on and were all but out of the game when McArthur struck so soon after the break.
"I think we started slowly and it happened in the last game against Southampton as well. It's something we need to sit down and work out where we're going wrong.
"It's hard to put our fingers on it now without seeing the game back but I'm sure we'll sit down this week and watch the game. We definitely need to start games a lot quicker and a lot brighter than we have done.
"They scored at the right time after half-time. We kept going and had a few half-chances near the end but it didn't really run for us. It was unfortunate for us, but we're looking forward to the next game now. It's gone and we move on to Manchester City now.
"We've got a good home record so I'm sure they'll be fearing us. We'll go in there with the confidence and the crowd behind us and see how we go."
Tomkins himself was unfortunate not to get his name on the scoresheet earlier than he did, sending one first-half header over the crossbar before hitting the frame of the goal with a deflected shot late in the second period.
Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan and Carlton Cole also had opportunities inside the Wigan penalty area, but were unable to take advantage of them for a variety of reasons.
"It was unfortunate that the chances we did have didn't fall for us, unlike theirs, which did. Sometimes you get games in football like that and we need to start quicker and that's one of the main things that we need to get out of Saturday."
For Tomkins, the frustration of defeat was tempered ever so slightly by the fact he is back in the starting XI, having replaced the injured Guy Demel at right-back in the Hammers' last two Barclays Premier League matches.
"I'm enjoying playing and I'll play anywhere for the team if it means I am starting. Hopefully I can learn the position if I'm played there more in the future. I'll just try to keep improving.
"I'm getting minutes under my belt now and that's the main thing."