Joe Schmidt felt Ireland were "pretty close" to getting a result in the first Test with Australia, where Israel Folau stood out as a key man.
The Wallabies ran out 18-9 winners in the series opener, as the returning David Pocock scored the decisive try in Brisbane to hand the visitors their first defeat in over a year.
Ireland were in the game for long periods, though, and Schmidt is confident that his side - featuring several changes from the Six Nations - can compete in what he has already identified as a "combative" tour.
"It was pretty close," Schmidt assessed and, after picking out various flash points, added: "It's building for a pretty combative series and a really competitive one.
"We just have to get on the right side of the scoreboard each week."
Pressed on key areas in which the Wallabies got the better of Ireland, one name immediately came to mind for Schmidt.
"Israel Folau, in the lead up to one of their scores, was freakish in the air, getting over the top of Jacob [Stockdale]- who's a pretty tall man himself," he said.
"We knew that was coming and tried to have a few solutions for it, but it's very hard to stop a man like Israel Folau.
"Then you're scrambling back and they're such a good attacking side. They've got a lot of speed."