Liam Rosenior has called on his Hull team-mates to treat their FA Cup near miss as the start of a new journey, not the end of their ambitions.
The Tigers played their part in a wonderful Wembley final on Saturday – their first ever appearance at such a showpiece – taking a 2-0 lead over firm favourites Arsenal inside just eight minutes.
They were hauled back in by the Gunners, who forced extra-time before Aaron Ramsey secured a 3-2 win – and the club’s first trophy since 2005 – with a clinical finish.
To even reach a cup final far outstripped the ambitions of Hull, who had targeted only Barclays Premier League survival on their first season back in the top flight.
Now Europa League football beckons next term and Rosenior expects the squad’s expectations to be revised upwards based on recent efforts.
“We want to be successful and we can’t rest on our laurels now,” said the full-back.
“We want to grow as a club, we don’t just want to stand still.
“The Premier League is the best league in the world and we want to make sure we are stabilised in it for years to come.
“We also want to come back here and have more days like this one.
“I’m proud to play for this football club because it’s a special one and the fans are fantastic.
“Hopefully we’ve done them proud. When the time comes I’m sure I’ll enjoy this too but at the moment it still hurts.”
Like Rosenior, midfielder Stephen Quinn has spent much of his career outside the Premier League.
Both performed impressively on the grand stage and the Republic of Ireland international, who scored in the semi-final, took huge pride in the underdogs’ display.
“We’re so proud of each other and I’m proud of all the lads in that dressing room,” said Quinn.
“We were so close but when you have top quality opposition like Arsenal there’s no shame in losing.
“The fans were excellent and the last couple of trips to Wembley have been great for them.
“They made a big sound and I’m sure they had a good day.
“They know how hard we’ve worked and I’m sure they’re proud of all the boys.
“Getting safe in the Premier League and reaching the FA Cup final, it’s the best season in their history.”
Captain Curtis Davies, whose close-range finish put the Tigers two ahead following James Chester’s opener, was battling mixed emotions after the match: “I might sit down in a couple of days and realise that I have lived a boyhood dream. I’ve played in a cup final, I never thought I’d score in a cup final, but for now it’s just a feeling of devastation.
“People are saying how we gave them a great game, but we might as well have been beaten 5-0 and never have been in it.
“To be 2-0 up and lose any game is devastating, but when it’s a cup final for a trophy and a medal ... this is one of the worst feelings I’ll ever have.”
And Hull manager Steve Bruce added: “I am distraught. We went 2-0 up probably too early, to be honest.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t hold on and it is massively disappointing. A lot of the players in that dressing room were playing in the Championship last season so it shows how far we have come.
“We’ve stayed in the Premier League, even though our place dropped a bit in the last couple of weeks probably because we had one eye on this game.
“We showed wonderful effort, we gave our all but unfortunately we were just pipped at the end.
“I am not sure (if Arsenal deserved it). I think on the whole maybe they had better chances, but for effort and endeavour I think we deserved something out of the game as well.”