Hearts manager Daniel Stendel insists his return to Germany and decision to give the squad Christmas Day off had no bearing on the 2-0 derby defeat by Edinburgh rivals Hibernian.
A first-half brace from Martin Boyle keeps the Tynecastle side at the bottom of the Scottish Premiership.
But Stendel, who has lost all four of his matches, dismissed any notion that his absence was a factor.
"When you see the game it was not the reason we did not win," he said.
"In the end, when you win you can say anything and it's all right, when you lose it's all bad."
Stendel returned to his homeland for personal reasons after the weekend's 2-0 defeat by Hamilton Academical, leaving assistant coach Andy Kirk to oversee derby preparations.
The former Barnsley manager also gave the players Christmas Day off.
"I take the responsibility for the decisions and I take the responsibility for the game but some things I cannot change," he added. "I cannot play, I cannot score, I cannot defend.
"We tried to improve and I think you can see some players are improving and some players maybe not. If we play like today I cannot believe that we do not win in the next games."
Boyle struck after six minutes, getting to a lofted Scott Allan pass before Hearts captain Christophe Berra to volley home. The Hibs forward then broke away to slip a shot past Joel Pereira on the half hour.
Hearts enjoyed the lion's share of possession in the second half, but good goalkeeping by Ofir Marciano, stout defending and poor finishing ensured the visitors kept a clean sheet without too much fuss.
"We showed in the second half that we can control a game," Stendel told BBC Sportsound. "We dominated but we need the quality to score.
"We are losing games not down to the opposition but a lot of times it is about our behaviour in defence. We need to change that.
"We have a big squad. Maybe too big. We need to know which players are coming back from injuries in January. We will talk about some options."