The Bairns boss watched an insipid display where the buoyant Bairns were dominated by the Highlanders - despite travelling north in high confidence following the emphatic 6-1 win over Dundee United.
The home side were 3-0 up within 30 minutes with goals from Jake Mulroney, Connor Bell and George Oakley. Louis Longridge and John Baird traded goals at the end.
After a seven goal thriller this was a five goal 4-1 killer and Hartley said: “Football baffles you at times. After such an outstanding performance on Saturday we should be up here with high confidence going into the game, but you can’t start games like that.
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”After 25 minutes to half an hour the game’s finished.
”In the second half we had chances and didnt take them but the start of the game really killed us.”
Inverness had joy down their right flank attacking Jordan McGhee and Tommy Robson in the first half before the ex-Herts and Middlesbrough man was replaced by Paul Watson.
Hartley explained the change was down to an injury. He said: ”Jordan McGhee went over his ankle and he’s been suffering niggles the last few weeks. We had to take him off because he’s been playing though a lot of injuries and we felt he couldn’t continue.
”We didnt do our jobs properly compared to Saturday.
“We knew they were a threat and warned the players. But if you don’t defend properly, take responsibility and do your job, it’s going to be difficult for you.”
The Bairns face Morton on Saturday.