Lee Clark cut a frustrated figure after watching his side relinquish two points against Blackburn Rovers in the final game of the 2012/13 season.
The Blues boss felt that his players took their foot off the pedal having led at the break courtesy of Ravel Morrison's terrific fizzing drive. And his team were made to pay as the division's second-top scorer Jordan Rhodes pounced to restore parity and drop Blues to 12th in the final league table.
Clark said: "We had chances in the first-half and I said to the players that if we'd done it right in the second-half then we could have put the game to bed but we didn't do it well enough. We've got better standards than what we did in the second-half. It's frustrating and we've probably finished a couple of places lower because of goal difference, which has been our Achilles heel."
Morrison notched his third goal of the season after side-stepping a couple of challenges before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner. "Rav took it well," commented Clark. "The sooner he realises he can do that type of thing the better - he went past people as if they weren't there. I keep telling these players, when you slow the ball down you give defenders a chance. When you move the ball quickly then they can struggle to keep with you. I've just got to keep pushing that message to them."
Clark is now bracing himself for a "busy" summer as he looks to put together a squad on a reduced budget which is capable of challenging in the upper reaches of the Championship table next season. He is ready and raring to go to meet that challenge.
"I'm looking forward to building a young and vibrant squad," stressed the Blues boss. "It will be the same as this season in that there will not be a transfer fee being paid and the budget will be nowhere near what it was, so players coming on will not be getting the salaries that players have in the past. The kids have been brilliant this season and there will be other young and hungry players brought into the club. I'll probably carry three or four senior players next year in terms of age and experience because we need good examples and it's important that you have those sorts of players.
"I'll get some good young players and they'll be rewarded if they're successful, that'll be the difference from the contracts now going forward. If they help the club get to where it wants to be then they'll get their financial rewards. They'll just not be sitting on massive salaries for not being successful. I'm getting forced into it a little bit but even if I had a transfer kitty this would be the way I'd want to go in terms of young players. I'm looking forward to it, I'm excited. It will be tough but this club is still a big pull for players - its history, tradition, size of support and the training facilities - and certainly younger ones who want to go forward in their own careers. And when you've got people like that the club only goes one way and that's what we'll be looking to do."