The Dundee United players will use their play-off pain to fire them up for a title-winning season next year, according to manager Robbie Neilson.
It was a horrible end to the campaign for the Tangerines against St Mirren, with the visitors missing all four of their penalties in the Paisley shoot-out after two sets of 90 minutes and half-an-hour of extra-time saw the sides still deadlocked.
Yesterday’s match itself had ended 1-1, with Nicky Clark’s opening goal – ironically, from the spot – cancelled out just three minutes later by Danny Mullen, who cashed in on a Mark Connolly error.
The wounds are still raw for Neilson, of course, but he is keen to focus on the fact that United are a club “awoken”.
“The players need a bit of time off but as soon as you get back into competitive games again everything is quickly forgotten,” he said.
“We’ll use this as motivation for next season.
“We need to make sure we’re ready.
“In my opinion the club has awoken again. It was in slumber.
“The new owner is desperate to do well and the fans are coming back.
“The club is getting run properly, things are getting done right and the fans don’t have to worry about that side of things anymore.
“Today’s a big disappointment obviously but if you look at the bigger picture, things are positive. That will continue into next season.”
A fourth year in the Championship will see United go up against their city neighbours Dundee.
“We’ll look forward to the derbies but ultimately it will be about getting out of this league,” said Neilson.
“We invested in January and the budget for players in the summer won’t change massively as a result of staying in the Championship.”
The four men to miss from the spot for United were Peter Pawlett, Pavol Safranko, Osman Sow and Callum Booth.
“It’s the cruellest way to lose a game of football,” said Neilson.
“The two teams were evenly matched over both games and in extra-time. Ultimately, somebody has to lose it.
“Unfortunately it was us today.
“There is pressure on these penalties. After we missed our first one it gives them a lift.
“We practiced for the semi-final and for this game.
“There’s a different pressure when it’s the real thing. Credit to St Mirren.
“But there’s no point in sitting here talking about penalties now. It’s done and dusted.
“The important thing is that we come back in pre-season ready to go again.”
The fact that United weren’t able to stay in front for longer after Clark put them ahead was a source of frustration for Neilson.
He said: “Getting the goal turned the crowd and if we’d managed to hold on longer and maybe get to half-time, it would have given us a better footing in the game.
“There wasn’t a lot of quality on show. People were shanking it all over the place and kicking it out of play.
“We sliced a clearance for their goal and then they’ve won on penalties.”