“The expectations were up there to maybe come to Pickering and get a result, but they are up there for a reason,” he said.
“We have only had half a dozen or so training sessions (with the players). To win here, we need months of hard work. I thought Pickering were OK and they were clinical where it mattered.”
Free-kicks from Ryan Blott and Joe Danby, as well as a lovely finish from Billy Logan, put fourth-placed Pickering three goals ahead at half-time.
Blott and Logan completed their braces either side of a 57th-minute Harry Dunbar consolation for the Tigers, who were beaten for the ninth time as they slipped to 11th.
Lee Hill and Michael Trench were dismissed to complete a bad day for the visitors.
Hill saw red in the second half and Trench was sent-off after the final whistle.
Milligan praised the Tigers’ supporters, called them “second to none” and asked for their patience.
“Thank you for making the journey,” he said.
“My message is — be patient, we will be making changes.
“Next season we will have pre-season, get the players in and it will be a different side.
“Discipline will be better, standards will be better, fitness will be better, the football will be better and it will come.”
When asked about whether he was considering adding to the squad, Milligan added: “We have been looking at that but we need to make sure they have the right character.
“The remit for the rest of the season is completely different to the remit for next season.
“We are interested in players who want to compete for the league... At this stage of the season their priorities aren’t to come here right now while we are, sort of, seeing the season out.
“We want to go into every fixture giving teams a good game and it starts with high workrate.
“At the moment our discipline, temperament and players not training are letting us down.
“The bigger picture going into next season is that players won’t be coming here for a payday.
“They will be here to work hard, to train, to get better and improve the state we are are in.”
Milligan said he hoped to add to the squad in time for the trip to Hemsworth Miners’ Welfare on Saturday and was hoping to see playeres return from injury.
Among them could be James Milner, who has been missing in recent matches.
“He has been a massive loss in recent games and we need someone like him,” said Buckley.
“We need his energy and all he brings. We had good patches (at Pickering) but what counts is what happens in one box, and what happens in the other.
“How clinical we are determines the outcome of the game. We didn’t attack the box well enough — it’s that simple.”