But Zola admitted he was delighted with his side's five-goal second-half performance.
Troy Deeney scored a second-half hat-trick as Watford served notice of intent to the rest of the Sky Bet Championship as they demolished Bournemouth at Vicarage Road after being all square at 1-1 at half time.
Lewis Grabban had cancelled out Gabriele Angella's goal for the hosts before Angella claimed his second and Deeney scored a quick-fire double before the hour-mark, as last season's beaten play-off finalists took complete control.
Lewis McGugan netted the fourth before Deeney became the first Watford player in 10 years to score a hat-trick, netting with a fierce drive from the edge of the area before converting an injury-time penalty.
Hornets head coach Zola said: "It's against a team that probably didn't deserve to lose 6-1 because especially in the first half they played well and they played in the right way.
"In the second half my team really put a good performance in and it was just what they needed because otherwise it was going to be difficult.
"The first thing that was wrong was many of my players were surprised at how good they were with the ball, they never kicked the ball away and they made it difficult. And after we scored the goal, we dropped back and we allowed them to play too much and it was trouble because they kept moving the ball well in midfield, they got control of the midfield and they caused problems.
"In the second half we changed gears to be honest because in the first half we were playing under rhythm and we pushed a little bit higher up the pitch and that made it more difficult for them."
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe admitted he did not envisage how the second half would unfold at the interval.
He said: "I thought it was a really good open game in the first half. I thought we were excellent, I was really pleased with the players and how they had responded to conceding an early goal and getting an excellent goal ourselves. I felt we could go on and win the game.
"The manner of the second goal was hugely disappointing because it was similar to the first, the set play which we didn't deal with well enough. If we're guilty of anything it was still chasing the game at 3-1.
"We felt we could still try and get back into it but they were ruthless in exposing that and we were a little bit naive towards the end where we kept giving the ball back to Watford and you can't do that against a good team."
Asked about his team's prospects this season, Howe said: "I always knew it was going to be a huge step up for our squad and for everyone at the club.
"If you look at our history we've hardly played in the Championship and history is always a good gauge and this is a big step up. We're going to play against some good sides, some big teams and we're going to need to try and generate points and every point is going to be a point earned.
"Although there were many positives to come out of today, the overall negative is we shipped too many goals and that is something we're going to need to address pretty quickly."