Assistant coach Clarke Dermody said the loss had been tough to take because they felt they had enough chances to win the game.
Dermody said the Highlanders hopes of winning the game foundered due to a lack of intensity in the first 20 minutes, and a lack of execution when in the Crusaders 22m area.
"We had heaps of opportunities, but were just not quite clinical enough," he said.
The performance had been a mixed bag. They had looked to get a breakthrough in the first 20 minutes but were unable to and as was always the case against the defending champions, giving them an opportunity was always costly.
"They were able to put us under pressure when they needed to," he said.
Dealing with that would be the focus at training in preparation for Friday's game with the Chiefs, and the Highlanders were expecting more intensity as a result of the Chiefs missing action in the first round.
"They've had another week to get ready but in saying that, having a game under our belts, and being put under that pressure is going to be good for us.
"What we've learnt in this competition is you can't hold on to a game for too long. The boys are really looking forward to getting to Hamilton," he said.
Coaches might take a little longer but once they had completed their review with the players they moved on to preparing for the next game.
Coping with no crowd at the venue would be another issue, although Dermody said they had experienced that last season.
"The players enjoy playing in front of a crowd. It can be quite eerie [with no crowd]. But the players need to prepare for [no crowds], as it is a bit different. But once the whistle goes, it is still 15 versus 15," he said.
All that could be done was to remind the players of what it was going to be like without that usual hum from the crowd at games.