John Hutchinson says no other team could have survived the turmoil experienced by Central Coast this season and gone on to reach the finals.
The Mariners lost 2-0 in a semi-final away to Western Sydney on Saturday night to see their A-League title defence come to an end.
But it was a remarkable effort for the club from Gosford to have made it that far after losing coach Graham Arnold and the bulk of their championship-winning squad.
"We just had to look at what we could produce this season," skipper Hutchinson told Fox Sports.
"And what we've done, it was a good season overall. I don't think any (other) club in the A-League could handle the changes we had coaching-wise and player-wise. You've seen changes at other clubs and they don't make the (top) six. We made the six, we gave it a little bit of a shake. But it wasn't meant to be this season.
"Don't take anything away from Western Sydney. They played some good football. We tried our hardest. Overall I'm very proud of my team. We had to rebuild at the start of the season, we had to rebuild mid-season as well. So with all the changes and what we've done this season, I'm very proud of the boys."
The Mariners' task in facing the Wanderers was made harder by the demands of competing on two fronts. While Western Sydney have also contested this year's AFC Champions League, Tony Popovic and his men cruised at home to a under-strength Guizhou Renhe on Tuesday.
Central Coast had to make the long trip to Japan to play Sanfrecce Hiroshima a day later, suffering a heart-breaking 1-0 loss before arriving back in Sydney just a day before the semi-final.
And while Hutchinson reiterated his club's disappointment with a lack of flexibility shown by the game's governing body over the possibility of delaying the crucial match, the veteran also paid tribute to his team's conquerors on the night.
"We can't make excuses," he said.
"We knew the scheduling that we had. Obviously we would have liked a little bit of help from the FFA. It wasn't meant to be. We knew the scheduling, we've got a good squad.
"But Western Sydney deserved it tonight, they're a fantastic team. They finished second on the ladder for a reason and I wish them all the best in the grand final next week."