Jon McCarthy says Chester FC need to regroup following the disappointment of Monday night's FA Trophy defeat to AFC Telford United.
All looked well when Ben Heneghan opened the scoring in the 15th minute of the first round replay to give Steve Burr's side a deserved lead at the turnaround.
Telford had little attacking threat but plugged away and levelled through Sam Smith on 76 minutes, punishing the Blues lacklustre second half performance as the game ended 1-1.
Extra time was pretty torrid to watch and the tie went to penalties with Jonathan Hedge saving from Kingsley James and Tom Peers to give the Bucks a 4-3 win, earning them £5,000 and a second round trip to AFC Fylde.
First team coach McCarthy said: "It's massively disappointing.
"We had a good performance at Telford to get them back here and a good first half performance here when we played some football like we wanted to.
"We got our goal and really we probably should have been two goals to the good and that would have killed the game.
"We had to make some forced changes which messed us about a bit and we conceded a goal.
"It was a strange night but we knew what to expect and we told the players about that: there'd be less of a crowd, less of an atmosphere and we've been used to having a lot of bigger games at the moment.
"We felt like we got them in the right frame of mind for that but then it became just a really unstructured game didn't it? There were a lot of changes and the game was all over the pace.
"Sometimes cup games go like that and at the end it was just about who's going to win it in terms of desire.
"It had nothing tactically, there were players all over the place and it was just going end to end like basketball and it was frustrating to have the lottery of the penalties.
"It's really disappointing because this club's never been to Wembley and it was something that we were trying to do.
"We've took some of the plaudits for what we've been achieving and we have to take some of the criticism.
"That's just the case and we'll have to get ourselves back for some big games and we need to regroup."
Chester are now without a win in five games, although four of those have been cup fixtures so the league position remains relatively healthy.
There have been signs of tiredness in the past few games and McCarthy admits the small squad are feeling the strain, particularly with the likes of Danny Harrison, John Disney and Wayne Riley out of the first team picture.
Losing loan forwards Matty Hughes and Rhys Oates has left the Blues lightweight up front but Kane Richards will return for the home game with Altrincham on Boxing Day (3pm) and there are plans to strengthen in the transfer window.
McCarthy said manager Burr hoped the FA Cup revenue would enable him make permanent additions and was looking at possible loan signings too.
"We benefited from bringing in some loan signings but we know the case with the clubs that loan them to us," said McCarthy.
"It's been a bonus to have them but they can be taken away from you and if we'd have had Matty Hughes and Rhys Oates it makes us stronger and I think everybody admits that.
"In terms of the budget we've had, it feels like we're quite solid at the back, we've got us a style and system of play that's playing through the middle and when we've had that cutting edge it's helped us get a lot of good results in the cup and more importantly in the league.
"The cup run might allow us to own that quality and that threat. Kane Richards has come in and looked exciting with some pace that might add to it and that's the next phase.
"In terms of where we're at as a club, the gaffer knows how to build a team and it feels like we've got some bits right. We can play some football in the middle of the park and we look quite solid.
"I think we're probably looking at do we get back in the loan market and we are out trying to make some connections with people and it's if the right one comes up are we in a position with the money we've made from the cup run to get them.
"The gaffer has proved that already a few times here, he knows that type of player and he can get them in so if we can one or two of them that's the next level.
"The FA Trophy defeat is a blow for us and eventually maybe that small squad has come back to bite us."