Ulster coach, Mark Anscombe, packed no punches in spite of watching his side pick up a win in Italy and move into fourth place in the Rabo PRO12.
Parma always proves a difficult place for most teams to go and Ulster had to dig deep to secure a hard earned win.
But leading 13-6 midway through the first half, Ulster looked as though they would cut loose and go on to secure a comfortable win - but they failed to do so.
Irish outhalf, Paddy Jackson’s 14 points from the kicking tee proved decisive as Ulster secured the valuable win with centre Darren Cave scoring a lovely try.
Coach Anscombe accepted it was not an easy place to come to and that they had got four points but he added: “Overall, it was a pretty sub-standard performance.
“I just do not think we brought our ‘A’ game with us or our attitude.
“We have got to look at ourselves first and foremost because that was just not good enough.”
Anscombe added: “Our defence was poor, I thought it was worst defensive performance of the season.
“We were passive and let their runners come to us.”
In spite of that, Ulster only conceded one try Zebre, fullback, Guglielmo Palazzani crossing on his debut for the Italian franchise.
Zebre centre, Gonzalo Garcia added two penalties.
In the first half Ulster had weathered an early assault from the Italians and looked to be settling into some rhythm.
Jackson had matched Garcia in the kicking department, both kicking two penalties before the young fly-half created the opening for the visiting try.
He cut a lovely line and then a reverse pass to winger Craig Gilroy had the Zebre defence flat footed.
Gilroy popped the ball into Cave’s hands and the impressive centre made no mistake. Jackson added the extras for a 13-6 interval lead.
Jackson kicked two from three penalties in the second half with Palazzani claiming his try late on.
Anscombe said: “We had a poor start to the game and did not have any ball for the first 20 minutes.
“Then we started playing reasonable rugby. We put pressure on them, but we just did not look after the ball enough.
“We also won turnover ball in the second half, but we simply ended up giving it straight back to them.”
Ulster were missing a number of players due to injury and rest under the IRFU management programme, but the head coach failed to blame that or anything else.
“There are no excuses for that performance. We simply did not come here with the right attitude.”
There was some concern when hooker, Rob Herring went off after taking a knock.
With Rory Best out until January, Herring is crucial to the squad.
Anscombe said: “He took a bit of a knock and was a bit dazed. Hopefully he will be all right for the game against Treviso.”