Sheffield United boss Nigel Adkins said his side's poor start was the catalyst for defeat at Coventry City, where the Blades lost 3-1 and with that went their outside chance of sneaking into the play-offs.
United needed to win at the Rocoh Arena and hope that results elsewhere went in their favour for them to go into next Saturday's match against Scunthorpe with something to play for.
As it turned out, the latter aspect of that scenario came to fruition with Barnsley drawing against Colchester and Gillingham losing to Burton.
Victory would have put the Blades level with Gillingham and two points behind Barnsley and Scunthorpe who are sixth and seventh respectively and separated by goal difference.
With United set to take on Scunthorpe on Sunday, there would have been plenty to play for at Bramall Lane, but this poor result at Coventry put paid to that.
Adkins' team were 2-0 down after just eight minutes as Marc-Antoine Fortune's deflection from an Adam Armstrong effort put the Sky Blues in front. Andy Rose doubled the lead and though Billy Sharp equalised with a penalty, Ruben Lameiras' goal near the end ensured it would be the home side who took all three points.
"We started poorly and then within a short space of time we are 2-0 down," reflected Adkins. "I thought we responded well and had good possession of the football, there were a few oohs and aahs but it just wasn't going to happen for us.
"At half time we still had the belief, Sharpy's got the penalty and then we get hit with a sucker punch at the very end of the game.
"A game that we could have won, we haven't done but it's the overall picture. We needed to win and we haven't done and that's that.
"That's the reality of it, we needed to win the game to take it into next week. What we do know is we have got one game to go in the domestic season and we are going to do everything we can to win that game of football."