But Klopp insisted his side's defeat was always possible against a team with the quality of Manchester City, Premier League champions in the previous two seasons.
The Citizens doubled their advantage in the 35th minute when Sterling finished from close range, and Phil Foden made it 3-0 to the hosts when he netted a superb third on the stroke of half-time.
"I saw a brilliant attitude, I saw boys who were fighting with everything we have. [It's not that] we didn't behave like somebody who became champion a week ago, [that] it's not important, so that was awkward", said Klopp, whose side lost for just the second time in the Premier League this season.
Tom Flathers Manchester City FC via Getty Images
"We lacked fluidity, that's for sure". And in some 50-50 situations they were quicker than us in mind.
"If you want to lead this story in the direction that we we're not focused, then do it", Klopp said. "What I wanted to see tonight was a team who is ready to fight against Man City, who obviously had a point to prove", the German said. "Make a few things better and it could look differently, but for tonight that is it", he added.
"If there is a team in the world that can smash us like this, it is probably City but we will come again".
"City is outstanding, I said that, I have to give them credit".
"I saw City's season and I didn't see a bad game, honestly even when they lost they still played really good football".