Andres Iniesta has admitted Barcelona were "not up to the job" during their 7-0 aggregate thumping by Bayern Munich in this season's Champions League semi-finals and that "the truth hurts".
Iniesta was substituted by coach Tito Vilanova during the second half of Wednesday's 3-0 second leg defeat at the Camp Nou with all hope of a Barca comeback long gone. It was a sorry end to the European campaign for the Catalan side, who had also been outfought and outclassed during the previous week's 4-0 opening game at the Allianz Arena.
The Spain international told Barca TV that Bayern had been much the better side in both legs, and a second consecutive semi-final failure was very hard to take.
"Both the first and second legs were tough games," Iniesta said. "Because of the results and because of the sensation left. Bayern are fair finalists. They are in great form right now and that showed on the pitch.
"We got the feeling that they were better than us. The truth hurts. It hurts to know that we simply were not up to the job. All of us are drained by what happened there and here. Once again we have narrowly missed out on the final."
Iniesta said that he and his team-mates must learn from their experience against Bayern and come back stronger next season.
"We have to congratulate Bayern and learn from what happened, to make sure that things work out better for us in the future," he said. "It goes to show how difficult it is to win."
Should Real Madrid slip up against Real Valladolid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday evening, Barca can sew up this season's La Liga trophy by beating Real Betis at the Camp Nou the following night.
Securing a fourth Primera Division title in five years would ease some, but not all, of the pain the blaugrana squad were currently feeling, the midfielder from La Mancha said.
"We have another game very soon," he said. "One thing does not change the other. We are very close to winning the league. After such a tough blow, it is sometimes hard to separate things. The other day I said that a season is not so bad if you win the league. I just hope we can win the title as soon as possible so we get back some feelings of happiness."