Hibernian head coach Jack Ross claims their semi-final pain would have been just as acute had they been rank outsiders for the Betfred Cup.
Hibs fans may disagree after watching their team bely their status as tournament favourites by falling to an ultimately lacklustre 3-0 defeat by St Johnstone despite dominating the first half hour.
With Celtic, Rangers, Hearts and Aberdeen missing from the last four, Hibs missed out on the chance to set up a final meeting against Livingston or St Mirren for an opportunity to win the tournament for the fourth time.
But Ross said: “Whether we were first favourites or fourth favourites is irrelevant. Trust me, when you are in this position it doesn’t make the disappointment or soreness any different.
“It’s as painful if you were rank outsiders to win the tournament. When you get so close to getting to a final then it hurts regardless.”
Hibs got close to the opener on several occasions with Jamie Murphy and Jackson Irvine both hitting the frame of the goal.
But they lost headed goals to Jason Kerr and Shaun Rooney either side of half-time and had no comeback whatsoever after Craig Conway’s 62nd-minute goal.
Ross was angered by his team’s response to the second goal and understood fans would have a similar reaction.
“I am desperately disappointed we haven’t rewarded them for what they have had to go through this season and the backing they have given us,” he said.
“I’m bitterly disappointed, because it’s my responsibility, that I haven’t produced a team that has provided a better performance in the final 35 minutes.
“Any disappointment, frustration, anger they will have is well deserved in terms of the final scoreline, which is always the most important thing, and in our failure to get to a final.
“We are putting ourselves in a position to get to finals and we have not done over these two games but we need to continue to try and do that.”
Ross admitted his team lacked “character and guts” when facing adversity but now needs to lift his players ahead of the visit of Scottish Premiership leaders Rangers on Wednesday.
“It’s always a challenge when players have suffered a disappointment but it’s my job,” he said.
“I am as sore as any of them. But it’s my responsibility to make sure that myself and my staff set that example and drag the players along with us.
“We have still got a huge amount to play for this season, not only in the league but hopefully in another cup competition as well.
“The reality of football is you can’t feel sorry for yourself for very long because there is another game coming along quickly and we have got a difficult one on Wednesday.”
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