Brentford manager Nicky Forster said he was proud of his side despite their 1-0 defeat by Carlisle in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final.
Peter Murphy's early goal at Wembley condemned the Bees to their third defeat in as many final appearances.
"We thought we'd prepared right, and we were ready to go but they didn't turn up in the first half," said Forster.
"I'm disappointed, but still incredibly proud of the lads because they worked so hard to get here."
The former Brighton striker is still registered as a player for the Bees but has not selected himself since being handed the managerial reins.
"I've said from day one that you can't do both," said Forster.
"When I was given the job temporarily I said that for all the time that I'm doing it I won't consider myself as a player. There's not enough hours in the day to manage, let alone go and spend time training."
Before the final defeat, Brentford had lost just three of 13 games under Forster, but he has yet to be given any assurances on his future.
"I think there's still a process going on and shortlists been drawn up, but so far I've not been told anything," he said.
"It's a good education, just rubbing shoulders with different managers, you learn a lot from them, good and bad things.
"I'd managed 13 games before the final so I'd already got the appetite for it.
"As for the big occasions, they are what every player and manager want to be involved in and I'm no different. I thoroughly enjoyed the game, apart from the result."