Motherwell left-back Stevie Hammell admits their William Hill Scottish Cup defeat by Aberdeen was all the more painful because it could help spell the end of an era at Fir Park.
Hammell, however, hopes pushing for another European adventure could help retain some of the players who are out of contract at the end of the season.
Motherwell were denied a fifth-round trip to face Hibs at Easter Road, where they play tomorrow on Clydesdale Bank Premier League duty, and the chance to emulate their run to the final in 2011 when they lost 2-1 in a Fir Park replay on Tuesday.
The financial blow has given manager Stuart McCall less chance of holding on to the likes of Nicky Law, Darren Randolph and Jamie Murphy in the long term.
Hammell said: “I don’t think it heaped pressure on us, but we were aware of it.
“It’s well documented, the gaffer even came out and said it, a cup run would help financially to keep some of the boys.
“I think that was another reason why it was disappointing to go out the cup, because I think this will be the last season that this group of players will be together.
“It’s a strong group, one of the best teams I’ve played with, and at the end of this season, or maybe even sooner, that team might not be together, so it would have been nice to finish with a trip to Hampden, but it wasn’t to be.
“We’ve got to put that disappointment behind us now and look to bounce back against Hibs. There are European places up for grabs.”