The Canaries had over twice as many shots on goal than the champions in Saturday's Premier League clash at Carrow Road, but ended up with no points again following their home reverse to Fulham on Boxing Day.
The teams went in level at the break but Danny Welbeck's half-time introduction swung the contest in United's favour, with the England striker netting the only goal in the 57th minute due to a hefty dose of luck.
Asked to compare his side's overall display to the one they turned in two days previously, Hughton told Sky Sports: "It was a far better performance and I thought we were excellent, particularly in that first-half period.
"We felt United would come out strong. We know the quality that they've got, and they can rotate players.
"The biggest threat against United is very much on the counter attack. Welbeck comes on at half-time and gives them more offensively. We had to be guarded from that, but I also thought we had really good moments even in the second half.
"We just needed to be a little bit more creative in that final third. But it's really disappointing because we certainly deserved more than what we got today."
Welbeck's goal came about after centre-back Ryan Bennett cleared the ball into his leg, with the ricochet coming off Javier Hernandez and back into the path of the substitute who was then able to go round John Ruddy and score.
"The game is about scoring goals and not conceding," added Hughton. "What we have today is a Norwich team that was creative in the final third, didn't make the most of the chances that we had - whether they were good chances or half-chances - and obviously conceding a very unfortunate goal.
"It was a fortuitous goal for them - a double deflection, which ran correctly in the path of Welbeck. When he has that type of opportunity, generally he's going to score."
Next up for Norwich is a trip to Crystal Palace, who lie only three points below the Canaries in the table, on New Year's Day.
"We wanted a response from the Fulham game two days ago, because it was a massive disappointment, particularly here at home and with Fulham being a team around us," said Hughton.
"We got that response today, but the facts are the facts and we've come away from these two Christmas games with no points. We need to address that, and the first opportunity to do that is on Wednesday.
"They're all big games. The lads will certainly be buoyed by the performance against a very good team. It's about recovery, preparation and making sure we show a lot of what we showed today."