Arsene Wenger admitted that Arsenal were outfought from the first minute at Stoke after a 3-1 defeat ended the Gunners' already fading title hopes.
Stoke took the lead when Kenwyne Jones exploited some slack Arsenal marking at a set-piece, a goal from which Wenger believes Arsenal never recovered.
"From the start, we were not strong enough in the fight," said Wenger.
"We were caught on the first free-kick and did not even jump to stop them from scoring. We cannot be happy with that."
A visibly dejected Wenger accepted that Stoke were worthy winners on the day and that Arsenal lacked the ammunition to trouble the FA Cup finalists.
"You have to give Stoke credit for fighting well," conceded Wenger. "They were dominant and defended well. It was important that we did not go 1-0 down and that's where we made the biggest mistake."
But Wenger believes his side, who still have a chance of snatching second place from Chelsea, can draw on the positives despite another frustrating season.
"It could have been a lot more, but we have still qualified for the Champions League so to say that we have achieved nothing this season is to go overboard.
"The Premier League is the toughest league in the world and we were very close."
Stoke manager Tony Pulis praised his side's commitment and believes such an impressive result symbolises the club's rise to prominence in recent years.
"We've played Arsenal at our place quite a few times now and they've only beaten us once here," said Pulis.
"We have a method and a way of making it difficult for them, and that's what we've done again. We've played really well today and deserved the victory.
"We're just hoping that Jones and Robert Huth are fit for the big day [FA Cup final] on Saturday.
"It's been a great ride for us this season. To think we are going into our fourth season in the Premier League after being written off after our first game against Bolton [a 3-1 defeat in August 2008] - we've come a long way."