Coach Patrick Kisnorbo says the hurt of a devastating A-League Men grand final loss will drive Melbourne City forward next season.
City were heavy favourites for Saturday's grand final and expected to become the first team to win back-to-back premiership-championship doubles.
Instead they suffered their second grand final loss in three seasons with a 2-0 defeat to Western United at AAMI Park.
"Sometimes you need to hurt to grow a bit," Kisnorbo said.
"I'm sure they're feeling the hurt now but they've had a fantastic couple of years, so I couldn't be much prouder.
City lost to Sydney in the 2019-20 grand final, when Kisnorbo was senior assistant to Erick Mombaerts, and he was confident he could pick his players up again.
"With the players, the hunger is always there," he said.
"When I look at last season to this season, maybe a 20-minute lapse is costing us. Maybe last season we got away with it and this season you don't.
"It's a lesson for us to know that you can't switch off for 90 minutes.
"It's one of those things that we need to get better in and it's one of those things that will drive the players for next season."
Kisnorbo has enjoyed a brilliantly successful start to his ALM senior coaching career but said he still had plenty to learn.
"I've been a head coach for two years. Two premierships and a grand final I think is a remarkable achievement by the players," he said.
"Yeah, I can always learn. I can learn every day. I'm not perfect. So it will hurt myself as well.
"But it's part of your role as a coach. You win and you lose. It's how you can improve. It's how I can improve as well."
Kisnorbo wasn't concerned the loss would affect perceptions of City's achievements and dismissed suggestions they had been on the verge of a dynasty.
"I don't worry about perceptions. A dynasty is something that you achieve across more than two years or three years. It's a Sir Alex Ferguson, it's a Bayern Munich, it's a Pep Guardiola - it's over years.
"We're just in the introductory bit. A dynasty is a long, long time for us. We're in the introduction, we've just started.
"It's something that we can grow from."
Australian Associated Press
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.