Jack Ross says the Checkatrade Trophy final shootout defeat to Portsmouth has left Sunderland feeling "sore".
Despite taking the lead through Aiden McGeady in the first half, the Black Cats struggled after the break and ultimately succumbed to defeat at Wembley after Oliver Hawkins' penalty secured a 5-4 shootout win for Pompey.
And though the Scot admitted his players were hurting after the dramatic defeat, he revealed his side wouldn't be dwelling on picking up runners-up medals, with league preparation kicking into gear once again on Monday morning.
He told Sky Sports: "I think, first of all, we are sore. As you can imagine, when you lose any final, it hurts and especially when you lose it in the manner that it goes to a penalty shootout.
"I think it's two teams that have enjoyed good seasons because they are good sides and I think they showed that; we were good in the first half, Portsmouth in the second.
"When it goes to extra time, it becomes a lot about commitment, desire and hunger and I think both teams had that as well. I'm proud of what my players have given me today but, ultimately, we're sore that we haven't come out on the winning side.
"Irrespective of the result, it was always going to be huge for us. We'll allow the players to relax tonight and then we'll get back to work tomorrow and prepare for Accrington."
Ross said the hurt was compounded by a genuine belief Sunderland would take the trophy to the North East for the first time, with Lee Cattermole in tears upon the final whistle after missing the spot-kick that handed the advantage to their opponents.
He continued: "We came here believing we would win, not in an arrogant way, I think you've just got to have that when you come to a final. So no matter how the game pans out, we felt as if we would leave here as winners. It didn't really change our mindset in that respect, but somebody has to miss one, somebody has to lose in that format and unfortunately, that was us today.
"When you play on in an occasion like today with the crowd that was in the stadium and you put that much into the game, the players are the ones that do the hard part. So when you end up as the person who misses the penalty, it hurts.
"But he's been terrific for me since day one of pre-season. He's made a big contribution to the season today and he'll make a big contribution in the games we have thereafter."