His men were second best to a Cypriot side ranked 122nd in the world, but got away with a goalless draw despite playing the final 15 minutes with 10 men following Gareth McAuley's red card.
The game was a dire spectacle which will be easily forgotten by the sparse crowd, while O'Neill was left with little suggestion that Northern Ireland are heading in the right direction. The side had neither won nor scored in 12 away friendlies since beating Finland in 2006 and that sorry sequence continued at a deserted GSP Stadium.
O'Neill, who has yet to win away from home in more than two years since taking the job, said: "People have to realise we are trying to build a team and it will take time.
"We are miles away from the finished article. We weren't good in possession and they were better on the ball."