Assistant coach Clarke Dermody said they could take plenty out of their first half of the game because it was how they wanted to play but the Crusaders had got their game going in the second half and took a 28-26 win.
"We had a lot of young players out there in the second half so they took a lot of learning out of that as well," he said.
"The intensity we played at [in the first half] was great. The stuff we have been working on in pre-season and Brownie [coach Tony Brown] has implemented on attack, you could see the boys doing that and the same with Shane on defence, especially in the first half you could see everything working so that was promising," he said.
In the second half, the Crusaders seized the momentum and when that happened it was hard to pull back.
There had been some problems with their lineout as the result of Crusaders pressure and that had affected their ability to hold them during the second half.
The late withdrawal of prop Jermaine Ainsley from the game had been due to an ankle injury that now requires surgery.
Dermody said it was unfortunate because he been outstanding during pre-season and was looking good. The injury happened in a tackle at training and the Wallaby will be out for the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition.
Fellow prop Ayden Johnstone was recovering from a concussion suffered in September's inter-island game but would not return to playing until completing his required protocols.
Former All Blacks flanker Liam Squire would not play at the weekend but was not far from being ready.
Dermody had mixed views on the laws being applied this season. He thought the goal-line drop out would reward attacking teams but would wait a game or two before seeing what effect the reduction in five-metre scrums could have.
While there was doubt over their game with the Hurricanes at the weekend as the result of Level 2 pandemic requirements they would deal with whatever happened. They were coping with the change in levels largely as a result of having been through the process before.
Whatever the outcome of the Government's approach the Highlanders would be ready to start Super Rugby Aotearoa at whatever time it occurred, he said.