Mansfield Town skipper Krystian Pearces believes an element of inexperience in the squad may have cost the club promotion last season.
But the ‘Chief’ has quickly put the heartbreak of missing out behind him and now only has eyes for next season and another bid for glory.
Stags lost their winner-takes-all automatic promotion game at MK Dons in the final game of the regular season before crashing out of the play-offs to Newport County in the semi-finals and seeing boss David Flitcroft sacked.
“Obviously it ended a bit disappointingly,” said Pearce.
“Our aim was promotion and we fell short, even though we made massive progress last season.
“We have come a long way since I have been at the club.
“I think we just lacked that cutting edge at the important moments.
“We had chances to kill off certain games but didn’t do that at times. Maybe it was a bit of inexperience? I don’t know.
“But we just have to move on now next season.
“I have tried not to think too much about last season as I want to focus more on the season coming and getting over the line.”
Pearce said having largely the same squad next season was a plus point though knows the Stags will need more firepower up front.
“We know we have got a good squad and the majority of players are under contract, so we are in a good place going into next season,” he said.
“I know the gaffer is going to try to bring in a few more bodies, so hopefully they will come in and add to what we’ve already got and we can go from there.
“Tyler Walker has gone back to his club so obviously we are going to have to find a replacement for him.
“That front line is where we are going to be looking to strengthen the most.”
Pearce was part of the division’s meanest defence last season and now wants to aim for the best clean sheets record of 25.
“Our defence was the best in the league – I think we averaged below a goal a game – and got 18 clean sheets,” he said.
“So we’re just trying to build on that and go again next season.
“We spoke about the record last season – 25 in a season – so that’s our target next season.”
Pearce was a rock in defence alongside Ryan Sweeney and Matt Preston, with Ben Turner coming in to show his talents late on as well.
“The more you play with someone the more you know their strengths and weaknesses,” he said.
“You build an understanding, which is what we did. We played quite consistently with each other which helps.
“I played alongside Sweens and Pressie – two very good centre backs, then Turns came in as well. It’s a nice balance and we complement each other well.”
He added: “My objectives for next season are always the same. I want to win every game. I want a clean sheet every game. So 46 wins and 46 clean sheets!”
Pearce will be starting his fifth season as a Stag and said: “This is home for me now and I am trying to make it my own.
“Only Mel Benning has been here longer, by about a week. But I think I have played more games than him.
“We have both been here a long time but we’re still enjoying it which is the main thing.”
Pearce enjoyed his first one-to-one meeting with new manager John Dempster.
“It was a very positive meeting,” he said. “Obviously he told me the ambition was still the same to get promoted, which is a big deal for me as that is my ultimate aim.
“He told me he is trying to strengthen the team though he doesn’t want to change too much.”