DEFEAT by Tranmere Rovers served to temper fans' expectations for the new season, according to Gareth Ainsworth and Paul Hayes.

Blues got off to a flier as they won both of their opening two league matches and pushed Championship side Millwall all the way in the Capital One Cup.

They were brought back down to earth with a bump after the midweek loss to Tranmere - but Ainsworth and Hayes said the Wanderers camp can't ahead of themselves after a promising start.

Ainsworth said the loss was a sign of how far his side had improved from last season.

He said: "Last year there were games we lost 1-0 and we hadn't created much - that's a worry. Creating 18 shots at the opposition goal in 90 minutes isn't too worrying for me. It's that little bit of refining, a little bit of luck - their keeper was outstanding.

"Tranmere are a decent side. They were League One last year, as were Stevenage, as were Carlisle. We've had a really challenging start to the season and I'm really happy with where we are.

"To be competitive in every game and as long as I see every bead of sweat off every single player coming off that pitch - if we do that, I'll be happy."

Asked if he'd have taken two wins out of three at the start of the season, Ainsworth said: "Hindsight and hypotheticals are a killer in football. I'm not sure what I would have taken. It's too early to start thinking where we could be and what points we need out of games.

"Six from nine isn't a bad return and we'll be trying to add to it on Saturday."

Meanwhile striker Hayes added: "I think if you asked any of the fans, the staff and the players to get six points out of nine and give a good side in the Championship a good, tough game, we'd have taken that so far.

"But we can't get ahead of ourselves. We haven't achieved anything this season so far. You also can't think, we've lost the last game, it's all doom and gloom.

"We'll take it game by game knowing if we work hard and we have that team spirit and morale we've got at the moment into every single game, we'll be alright."