Simon Grayson admitted that it needed a tactical change and a strong half-time team talk to get Preston back into their clash with Aston Villa.
The Lilywhites battled back from being 2-0 down to draw 2-2, with Jordan Hugill on target twice in a 12-minute spell in the second half.
Albert Adomah netted both Villa goals, the second a controversial penalty.
Despite the complaints about the penalty, it was hard to begrudge the home side their lead going into the break.
North End boss Grayson said: “We didn’t stop Villa from playing in the first half, we were too far off the pace.
“We felt their left-back was running Paul Gallagher a bit too much early on, that is why we changed it to 4-3-3 with Gally sitting.
“If Jack Grealish popped into little pockets of space we were able to deal with it a lot better doing that.
“The biggest thing for me in the first half was that we didn’t keep the ball well – when we got the ball, we gave it away far too quickly.
“When you don’t keep the ball, it is hard to get out of your defensive third.
“At half-time there were a few words said and you saw a proper team in the second half.
“We kept the ball better, we got Aiden McGeady on the ball a lot more and we began to look a threat.
“After having to deal with wave after wave of attacks in the first half, we were able to start asking questions of them.”
Before kick-off, Grayson laid a wreath in the Villa Park centre circle in memory of former Villa and England manager Graham Taylor.
It was Villa’s first home game since Taylor passing at the age of 72.
Hugill’s two goals won him plaudits and lots of attention, Grayson reiterating that PNE were in no mood to lose him amid interest from Ipswich who are the next visitors to Deepdale.
Said Grayson: “We signed Jordan from Port Vale for £20,000 and recently turned down a seven-figure offer.
“We are a debt-free club which doesn’t need to sell and doesn’t want to sell our best players.
“We are trying to build and hopefully these players can help us get further up the league and beyond that.”