Gills boss Peter Taylor was left questioning his players’ belief following defeat to the league leaders.
Taylor’s team were 2-0 down after a disappointing opening half and, despite pulling one back through Cody McDonald in the second, they lost 3-1.
"I felt our first half performance killed us," said Taylor.
“The effort I have never questioned. I questioned their belief that they could win the match. I felt as though they gave a good team respect and to me they gave a good team too much respect.
“If you watch Bristol City play, they will play, simple as that. You can’t afford to let them do that. That is an area we have to do better at.
“I don’t think we showed good character at the start of the game. The players felt as though perhaps they couldn’t beat Bristol City. That was disappointing.”
The Gills were fighting an uphill battle after conceding twice in the first half.
A second half improvement was too little too late for Taylor.
He said: “Yes it was better in the second half but it is a really bad habit to do that, to then only get better when you are chasing.
“I thought we were yards away from Bristol City, not strong enough defensively as a team, not a unit and that is why to me, people were defending individually and we didn’t get anywhere near them.”
The Gills were looking to make it back-to-back wins over the festive period following a Boxing Day win at Colchester.
“Bristol City are in good form, top of the table, are very organised and very consistent,” said the Gills boss.
“We are inconsistent at the moment and we certainly didn’t do enough in the first half to cause them any problems.
“They (City) play the back five, they play it very well. They play in tight areas and they have the confidence to do it. That is where I was disappointed with us.
“There was always going to be a time in the game where a good team has good possession against you but you will also have time in the game to do the same. That’s what we didn’t do. I felt as though when we had possession we rushed it, we hurried it and we looked a touch nervous.”
Taylor made changes at the break, bringing on Brennan Dickenson and Jermaine McGlashan for Danny Kedwell and Amine Linganzi.
The Gills boss explained the switch, saying: “Amine had a bit of a hamstring. I thought Danny Kedwell did as well as he possibly could but I just needed to change the shape a bit.
"I decided to keep Cody up there for his pace. Thankfully for us it helped us get a goal back but they needed to keep that scoreline for at least for the next few minutes but the third goal was a poor goal.
“We tried to out-muscle Emmanuel-Thomas, which was a poor decision, because he is big and strong and you must not dive in against people like that. They then get the third goal. In the end that kills it.”