The veteran prop admitted the Welsh had arrived Down Under elated at their Grand Slam-winning performances in the RBS 6 Nations, but now he believes the hard lessons doled out in the 27-19 defeat in Brisbane will be beneficial in the long run.
The Wallabies hit back from their shock midweek 9-6 defeat to Scotland to put in an impressive performance on Saturday, leaving Wales with plenty to do to get back into the three-Test series.
And their task was made even tougher by the news Toby Faletau is out of the rest of the tour after breaking his hand in that first Test loss.
Jenkins, an 88-cap veteran, knows better than most how hard it is to beat the best of the southern hemisphere having won just once and drawn once in 23 games against Tri-nations sides.
"For a lot of the youngsters it was the first time they had played in the southern hemisphere," Jenkins said.
"Some of them were still walking on cloud nine a bit after winning the Grand Slam at home.
"But we all learned it is a different kettle of fish and you do well to win in the southern hemisphere. People had been talking us up but I realise how hard it is to play against Australia, even when they are missing a few quality players.
"We will really have to tighten up before next week. We have got to be right at the top of our game to get anywhere near a win down here.
"They are never an easy team to play against. You only have to give them a sniff and they make the most of it."
Jenkins also had some clear ideas about where the game was won and lost.
"They upped the intensity and the tempo in the first 20 minutes and Will Genia got runners working off him and we suffered with the pace," he said.
"We played a little bit too much rugby in our half in the first half, whereas in the second half we played a lot more in their territory and forced them to make mistakes.
"We also made two poor defensive errors, which we won't be proud of, and we have to put that right."
Defeat brought to an end Wales' six-match unbeaten run this year and will leave caretaker coach Rob Howley with plenty to work to do.
Wales meet Super League outfit the Brumbies on Tuesday night - lock Luke Charteris the only survivor from Brisbane in the team - before heading to Melbourne for the second Test.
Howley has called up Melbourne Rebels' Gareth Delve from outside his original 34-man squad as a replacement for Faletau, who will fly home to have his injury further assessed.
Former Gloucester captain Delve won the last of his 11 caps in 2010, and he was at Saturday's game in a radio commentary capacity.
Wing George North will undergo intensive treatment on a haematoma to his thigh in a bid to get him fit for the Melbourne match. North was forced off during the first half of Saturday's encounter, and he is crucial to Wales' hopes of squaring the series.
Jenkins added: "We have to stay tight this week, put in some good training and hit back in Melbourne.
"You saw how skilful their players are and we simply can't afford to give them any chances.
"They are a very good attacking team and we need to be stronger around the contact area and put more pressure on them at the breakdown. We got our second wind as we got used to the intensity and we have got a chance to build on this hit out.
"The game showed how well you have to play in the southern hemisphere where they play at that intensity every week and we have to match that.
"We won't win if we play like that again. It was a fast game, and it suited them, but we went away from our strengths.
"We have to play a little bit more sensibly. We slackened off from our high standards in the Six Nations and we have to pick up the intensity of our game.
"The second Test is a massive game for us, but it isn't all over in this series just yet."
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