The Dragons were outscored five tries to one by Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday just eight days after their upset against a Gwent Premiership XV.
New coach Chris Anderson is still looking for his first win with the region since his appintment in the summer.
But skipper Jason Forster insists they proved they could hold their own against the Zurich Premiership outfit.
"Slowly but surely we are making progress and the main thing was that we showed an improvement from the week before - and we did that," said Forster.
"I hope the fans are not too disappointed by this defeat but it was a great lesson in the standards we have got to be at.
"But in saying that, I thought we more than matched them in the first half and in fact played the better rugby. It was just unfortunate that we gifted them 21 points from some dodgy decisions by the referee."
The Dragons, still without Michael Owen and Gareth Cooper, certainly matched their hosts, who have one of the biggest packs in England, during a tight first half.
New boys Kevin Morgan and Ceri Sweeney scored their first points for the Rodney Parade region but their late try and two first-half penalties were never going to be enough to beat the Saints who hit back with five tries of their own.
England star Ben Cohen did the damage just before half-time by charging down Sweeney's clearance for Marc Stcherbina, one of Northampton's foreign legion, and then finishing off a break by Wylie Human minutes later.
Finishing was to prove the difference between the sides as the Saints ran in three more in the second half after the Dragons has made a host of replacements.
Among them was Rhys Oakley who made in-roads late on before making the break that saw Morgan dive over in the corner.
Forster added: "We are pushing ourselves hard and I think we should be judged more on the first half than the final result, which did not reflect the difference between us.
"We made wholesale changes in the second half whereas they didn't and that contributed the score. Now we're looking forward to our first home game on Saturday."
The Dragons face Celtic League rivals Ulster at Rodney Parade on Saturday in their last pre-season friendly.
Northampton: Tries - J Rudd (2), M Stcherbina, B Cohen, B Reihana. Cons - S Drahm (5)
Dragons: Try - K Morgan. Pens - C Sweeney (2).Referee: Martin Fox (England)