Shropshire captain Ed Foster says his young home-grown side might have fared even better in 2012 had they hung on to their professional, Bilal Shafayat.
The county had high hopes this summer after signing Shafayat following his release by Nottinghamshire.
But Hampshire nipped in to snap up the former England Under-19 captain in May.
"We were unfortunate with Bilal. Had we been able to call on his services more often then who knows what might have happened," said Foster.
"We had high hopes of what he would do for us but he had the chance to sign for Hampshire."
As it was, Shafayat has made just five County Championship appearances for Hampshire and Shropshire were able to field a side made up predominantly of local league cricketers raised within the county.
"In years gone by we've been able to usually call on two professionals but this season we've had pretty much a Shropshire-based side," added Foster.
"And it's been pleasing to blood some young lads like Joe Clarke and Ed Barnard. To get them used to being around the squad has been a positive."
It all added up to a fourth-placed finish, the county's best performance in Foster's three years as skipper. And, but for the weather, it might have been better still.
They were only 22 runs short of victory when the rain ruined last weekend's season-closing contest against Devon at Whitchurch.
And, after opening their campaign with victory over Cheshire at Bridgnorth, they would certainly have fancied their chances of beating Herefordshire, only to be denied by a rain-hit three days at Colwall.
"It's been a challenging season with the weather," said Foster. "But we've played some very good cricket at times.
"We were still in with a shout of winning the title going into the last match, so we took it pretty close."