Head coach David Ripley admitted Northants were at least 25 runs short as they 'under-clubbed' during their defeat at Nottinghamshire Outlaws.
The Steelbacks won the toss and opted to bat first at Trent Bridge, but they could only make 152 for eight from their 20 overs in Wednesday's Vitality T20 Blast battle.
Captain Josh Cobb top scored with 36, while Graeme White added a useful unbeaten 27 towards the end.
But the Steelbacks always looked likely to come up short on a good pitch - and so it proved.
Notts reached their victory target with 11 balls to spare, winning by seven wickets.
And when asked how close his side were to posting a competitive target, Ripley replied: "Some distance. We under-clubbed on our runs.
"It was a decent pitch with a shortish boundary on one side and the start they had in the powerplay (Notts were 60 without loss after six overs) they managed their way to victory.
"Graeme (White) bowled well in that middle period and we scrapped our way back in but we needed something special and they eased their way over the line.
"I think we needed another 25 runs – 175 would have been a good game.”
Joe Clarke was a key man in the Outlaws' reply as the opener racked up 45 from 34 balls.
And Clarke said: “I enjoyed that. It has been a tough couple of months and it’s just nice to contribute to a win.
“I didn’t want to turn down the opportunity of playing in a friendly in the week and scored some runs.
"It’s important to spend time in the middle and I’ve done that and faced some balls and got my rhythm back.
"I came off tonight and hopefully there is more in the tank."