"The work we do on a day-to-day basis makes players better. They have to be brave enough to perform in matches. Today some were guilty of not doing that.
"We know where we are in development terms and we know where we need to go.
"We know the areas of the squad we have to strengthen and we will try to do that. It is not going to happen in this window, or even two or three. We need more time."
Hughes feared the worst when he lost Shaun Wright-Phillips after only 18 minutes with a hamstring injury that could keep him out for up to five weeks.
"We are bitterly disappointed with the level of performance that we produced today," he said.
"Nottingham Forest fully deserved to win.
"They showed more desire and energy in their play. They forced us into errors and took their chances."
Hughes continued, "I didn't expect the other team to show more desire but I am just being honest.
"I am not telling anyone anything they didn't see themselves. I have known the frailties in the team from day one."