Bruce admits Southampton are a growing force in the Barclays Premier League.
"Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say we were well beaten," said the City manager after their 4-1 defeat.
"At least in the second half we showed some character and restored some pride.
"Southampton are the best side in the division outside the usual suspects challenging for the top four by a country distance. They have very good players.
"The better team on the day by a million miles won the game.
"Maybe Southampton are not a small club anymore and maybe they do have enough to compete at the top end of the table."
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