Reading occupied the final Sky Bet Championship play-off spot at the start of play on Saturday, but by the final whistle Brighton had sneaked into sixth and secured a semi-final tie with Derby County. Although the Royals only had to match Brighton's result, a 2-2 home draw with Burnley was not enough as Leonardo Ulloa scored in injury time for the Seagulls to achieve victory over Nottingham Forest.
Manager Nigel Adkins was understandably disappointed following the heart-wrenching end to the season, but he feels as if the pain will be the catalyst for an even more impressive season next year.
"It's important you feel the pain and the hurt because that's what makes you work even harder," the 49-year old told Sky Sports. "You need to have a negative experience to make you stronger.
"We can't change anything now, we've given it a good go, and the future is still very bright at this club. We'll take a couple of days to chill out and then reflect on it.
"This was effectively a play-off game and we started brightly. We changed shape in the second half and got a good stranglehold on the game."
Knowing that their fate was in their hands must have caused even more pain for Adkins, but he was proud of the display his men put on.
"We were well aware what was happening at Nottingham. There were a lot of oohs and aahs going on. We were going for everything. We couldn't have done much more."
Considering the events surrounding Reading's final minute misery, Adkins was humble and benevolent in his post-match interview, choosing to focus on the limitations of his own team rather than blame others.
Speaking to the Reading Chronicle, Adkins said: “At the end of 46 games, we’ve ended up in the division where you deserve to end up.
“Life is a rollercoaster and we’ve missed out on the play-offs in the final minutes of the season.
“Have we drawn too many games? Yes. Have we not won enough games at home? Yes. Have we had too many injuries? Yes. Have we not been able to strengthen maybe in the areas we want? Yes.
“That’s the reality and what we have to do is get ourselves ready and prepare for the future.
“We’ll be back with the grit and hunger and required. I want us all to be in the Premier League. We’ll keep working extremely hard."
Although an unfortunate final day of Championship action means Reading are resigned to Championship football for another season, his words must bring faith to the fans who fill the Madejski Stadium.
A manager understanding his faults, and already preparing for the Premier League, is one many clubs wish they could have, and Adkins - with his proven track record at Championship level - may just be the man to return the Royals to the top flight of English football.