John Hackworth and his players wouldn't call it a "statement game".
But a win in Montreal would have been the team's biggest win this year.
Marco Di Vaio's first half hat trick ultimately sunk the Union, who fought back to within a goal two separate times before falling, 5-3.
The Union are now 0-3-0 against teams in the top half of the Eastern Conference.
"I don't look at it like that," said manager Hackworth, when asked whether he was concerned with the Union's record against top-table teams. "I think we are what we are. I think we have to be a team, that's truly a really good team, on any given night, to compete in this league. Unfortunately, in the games where we've come up against teams above us in the table - I think we've gone out and gone nose to nose with them, but in the end we've made some mistakes and we haven't had a result come our way."
Philadelphia's best win of 2013 looks to be the March 10 victory in Colorado.
The Rapids are currently the only team in playoff position that the Union have defeated this season.
"I didn't see it as a statement game," said fullback Sheanon Williams. "I feel it was just a game for us, coming off a win, we were trying to build some momentum for ourselves. Obviously they're a good team and their position in the standings and our position in the standings shows the type of teams we currently are. I'm sure that'll be pretty different at the end of the season."
The Union are just 1-4-0 against teams currently in the playoff picture.
"We know Montreal has a few games in hand so we don't really look too much into that, whether we jump in front of them," center back Amobi Okugo said. "But we've got to start beating the better teams. We're taking care of business against the teams behind us, but if we want to stay in contention we need to beat the teams that we're trying to catch up to, in terms of points."
The loss drops the Union to 3-3-1 on the road this season.
And with five goals given up in Montreal, the Union defense has now conceded a conference-worst 23 goals through 13 total games.
"We knew what their game plan was going to be," Williams explained. "We didn't pay attention. We didn't play well defensively and that includes me. I feel like I'm accountable for at least three of their goals, so that's not good enough for me. It's not good enough for our team. I'll give us some credit for not giving up and fighting back during that game. We had a couple of chances to tie it up and steal maybe a point on the road and we just kept giving up some bad chances."
"We didn't come out the way we wanted to," said Okugo. "It was more like a track meet, a basketball match. We should have tried to settle down. We gave Di Vaio too much space and he punished us. We showed a lot of character coming back. We got it to 3-2 and had a chance to put some pressure on them, but they got the fourth goal and that kind of put us down. We showed a great amount of character to fight back, then when you're throwing the kitchen sink at them, they get another goal on the counter and the game's over."
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at email@example.com