Micky Mellon knows he has got a big job on his hands to ensure Tranmere’s FA Trophy exit does not hamper their promotion push.
Hearts were broken at Prenton Park on Saturday as a 1-0 defeat to Macclesfield saw Rovers dumped out of the competition at the semi-final stage.
There was plenty of excitement pre-match as the club looked to book a spot at Wembley for the first time in 17-years.
But as seems to have been the case all too often for Tranmere over the past decade, they fell at the final hurdle when the finishing post was within sight.
The worry is that such disappointment and frustration could linger and take its toll on a promotion push which has stuttered and spluttered over the last fortnight.
There are 12 games left in the National League, and Rovers still hope to mount a challenge for top spot, currently held be Lincoln.
If they fail at that, the elusive trip to Wembley could finally happen in the play-offs.
The first test is tomorrow night when Rovers travel to North Ferriby, and Mellon is keen for that to be their only focus.
“It was not to be,” he said. “The disappointment is huge. I feel for everybody else.
“We’ve got this pain with us now but we will do what we always have to do and always have to say, and that’s ‘bounce back very quickly’.
“Now it’s known what the main object is, and that’s to get out of this league.”
There were some Tranmere fans who had little interest in the FA Trophy this season, concerned that a run in the competition would hinder any promotion bid.
There was no reason why each could not go hand in hand though.
Arguably, a win in this game could have been the making of the season. Performance levels would have been raised with such a huge game on the horizon.
Yet a few supporters were not bothered whether or not this tie ended in Rovers’ favour. They just want to get back into League Two.
Try saying that to any of the players though. They will have heard the partying happening just across the corridor at 5pm on Saturday as the Macclesfield squad celebrated their achievements.
Every footballer dreams of a trip to Wembley, whether they player for Tranmere or Barcelona.
Such hopes were dashed by a brutal flick of his right boot by Ollie Norburn, whose 68th minute strike swung the tie in favour of the Silkmen as it flew past Scott Davies.
Rovers simply could not respond. Long balls were thrown hopefully forward as Andy Cook desperately tried to get a decisive flick-on.
But Macclesfield soaked up any pressure with remarkable efficiency, seeing the game out to perfection.
Before the break was when Tranmere came closest, with James Norwood forcing a couple of saves out of Scott Flinders.
Yet the ‘keeper was rarely stretched over either game as the visitors won the two legged affair 2-1.
Attention now quickly swings to North Ferriby and Mellon is desperate to put things right.
“We are professionals,” he continued. “We have to get over it very quickly and understand this is the nature of the job sometimes. There’s a lot of pain in it.
“We’ve got to go again on Tuesday.
“I couldn’t be more determined [to get Tranmere promoted]. Nothing would make me more determined.
“I’ve always been and always will be where I am with that one. I have to get in there on Monday and get the lads moving on and focused.
“It’s a huge game. They all are. Twelve to go, our only focus is on the league.
“We have to look forward, show character and we will be doing everything we can to make sure everybody looks forward now.”
A lack of creativity was one of the problems on Saturday. Rovers simply could not burst a solid defence who kept the likes of Andy Cook and Connor Jennings quiet.
Injuries have played their part in that and the recent form, which stretches to four games without a win.
Losing Ben Tollitt to damaged knee ligaments was a bitter blow, whilst Jake Kirby, Lois Maynard, James Wallace and Jack Dunn have all been missing too.
The latter three should play again this season – but no date has been penciled in for a return yet.
“None of the ones who are injured will be available for Tuesday,” Mellon added.
“But they’re making decent progress. “We’ll be going with the group that we have and we’ll just keep going and make no excuses.”