Pulis' side failed to register a shot on target at Villa Park in the second-leg goalless draw, which was enough to send Aston Villa to the Championship play-off final against Fulham at Wembley on May 26 following Mile Jedinak's header in the first leg.
At the heart of that defence was former Chelsea and England centre back John Terry who joined the club a year ago on a free transfer and whose appointment as captain appears to have had a significant impact.
"The boys were different class".
He's told BBC Radio Teeside that, for him, what's crucial is: "that we turn up and we're a little bit more clinical in the final third - that was the only real negative, apart from conceding from a set play, of the game on Saturday".
Boro created few clear-cut chances but nearly levelled the tie late on when Stewart Downing's 89th-minute free kick from just outside the penalty area rattled the crossbar.
Tony Pulis has only won two of his previous nine away games against Aston Villa as a manager, although those wins have come in the past four trips (D4 L3).
"But I thought the players really worked hard and gave it their best". "You have to take it on the chin, it's not easy to say that, but that's being brutally honest".
"We've got an advantage, the crowd can hopefully play their part, but it's a big tie still ahead".