Arsene Wenger was left to reflect on the most disappointing night of his Arsenal career following the Champions League semi-final defeat to Manchester United, but vowed his young side will one day compete with the best again.
The Gunners were undone by two goals in the space of three first half minutes, which effectively killed off the tie as a contest, leaving the home side needing to score four and slipping eventually to a 4-1 aggregate defeat.
"It is the most disappointing of nights," said Wenger. "I felt the fans were really up for a big night and to disappoint the people who stand behind the team so much hurts really."
He added: "We do not feel like we have played the semi-final of the Champions League because we were out of it after 10 minutes. The game was over before it started, that is most difficult to swallow.
"We can only look at ourselves I must say, but it's very, very disappointing to fight such a long way to get where we have been but to give the game away like we did."
Arsenal, trailing 1-0 from the first leg, had started brightly, but the Emirates Stadium faithful were left stunned when Park Ji-sung capitalised on a slip by teenage full-back Kieran Gibbs to fire the defending champions ahead on eight minutes.
Before Wenger's side could recover, they were 2-0 down following an audacious 40-yard free-kick from Cristiano Ronaldo which beat keeper Manuel Almunia, who had been in inspired form during the first leg.
Ronaldo added a third on the counter-attack just after the hour as the Gunners again failed to rise to the challenge, but did net a consolation penalty from Robin van Persie when Darren Fletcher was sent off - and so will miss the final - after being adjudged to have fouled Cesc Fabregas.
Wenger added: "We were ready for a fight, ready for a game, but after 10 minutes it was impossible. We kept going and we did as much as we could, played with pride and desire, but of course some part of the belief had gone."
"Now we have to stand up for it and finish the season well and respond well against Chelsea on Sunday."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: https://www.givemesport.com/writeforgms