SHANE Lowry admitted Millwall had been taught a harsh lesson in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Wigan at Wembley on Saturday.
The Premier League side dominated possession for long spells and capped an impressive display with two well-worked goals, scored by Shaun Maloney and Callum McManaman.
And while Lowry had no complaints with the final result, he insisted he would always treasure the experience of reaching the final four of the competition.
"We're proud as a team and a club to get this far but sometimes you've got to hold your hands up and say you lost to the better team," he told NewsAtDen.
"Wigan deserved to go through so congratulations to them. But this was a great achievement for a club of our size to reach the semis and I'll cherish that for the rest of my life.
"On the day, when you're involved in it and playing, it kind of passes you by. You're too focussed on the game and can't really take things in.
"I think a few years down the line I will look back on this is a good achievement for me – 23-years-old and playing in a semi-final at Wembley."
Lions manager Kenny Jackett felt striker Arouna Kone was the difference between the two sides and Lowry admitted it was an uphill task attempting to contain the Latics star.
He said: "Kone's a strong boy – a real targetman up front. Then you have got McManaman, Maloney and Jordi Gomez going pretty much where they want. It was tough to defend against.
"When they play like that, Wigan can beat Manchester United. It was tough trying to stop them. We had a spell in the second-half where we had them on the ropes but our final ball was missing."
Lowry nearly missed the game through illness but said he was determined to play: "I was laid low. I felt it before the Sheffield Wednesday game – I had a bit of a stomach bug.
"I was in bed all day Wednesday and Thursday. It was touch-and-go but thankfully I pulled through because I wasn't going to miss this game. The timing wasn't ideal.
"I don't want to miss any games for Millwall – be it through suspension, illness or injury. To be fair, I felt alright on the day."
Millwall face a vital Championship clash with Watford on Tuesday and Lowry is keen to ensure there is no Wembley hangover.
"We have got pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and crack on," he said. "We need to get some more points on the board. Our home form has been horrible recently.
"I do not know what's been going on – it just has not clicked like when we play away. We are back in training on Monday and we'll be hoping to catch Watford cold."