Chelsea captain John Terry insists coach Avram Grant was right to keep his team selection to himself until hours before the kick-off as the Blues begin to dust themselves down from their Carling Cup final defeat by Tottenham.
Goals from Dimitar Berbatov and Jonathan Woodgate earned Tottenham their first trophy since they claimed the Worthington Cup against Leicester in 1999.
Juande Ramos' side fought back to deny Chelsea a second successive Carling Cup triumph, after Didier Drogba had given the Blues the lead in the first half.
Terry's place in the starting line-up, along with that of his England team-mate Frank Lampard, had been under scrutiny ever since the pair were omitted from Grant's side for the Champions League clash with Olympiacos five days earlier.
But Terry insists their preparations for the final were not hampered by the speculation surrounding their places in the team.
He said: 'The manager keeps it all very close to his chest. None of us knew until Sunday, and that is how it has been in every game.
'So there was no change or excuse. That is the way it has got to be. It keeps everyone on their toes - and as a group of players, we have to deal with it.
'I am gutted, and the lads are gutted inside. I just can't believe how we've played. They started a lot brighter than us, but at 1-0 up we looked in control. But then things were spoiled.
'After they started well, I thought we soaked up a lot of their pressure. We didn't really keep the ball as well as we can do - and overall we were not at the races.
'That is the most disappointing thing - going to some tough places to get here and blowing it on the day. It is not a good feeling believe me. It was very disappointing. '
Terry makes no secret of how badly Chelsea wanted to win.
'You hear people say the Carling Cup doesn't mean anything - but you try telling that to the players in our dressing room,' he added.
'You can tell by their faces what it means to them. Every year we put a strong side out.
'But we were not good enough overall. As a team, as individuals and collectively we were just not good enough . It is hard to say, but Tottenham deserved it. '
There is no time for Chelsea to mope, though.
'We have to pick ourselves up now,' their captain advises.
'It is the last thing the players want to hear - my voice saying we need to pick ourselves up - but we need to.
'We are still in three massive competitions. The Premier League is not over. We go away to West Ham next week; then we have the Champions League and FA Cup after that.
'We can do one of two things. We can dwell on it and get knocked out of another competition, or we take this defeat and pick ourselves up and go again.
'The determination and will to win is still there. We hate losing in training, in small games and big games. There are a lot of big teams still to come to Stamford Bridge, and we will see after that.'
Meanwhile, Germany captain Michael Ballack has no problems with Grant after being left on the substitutes' bench for the start of Sunday's final at Wembley.
Ballack was later introduced into the action as Chelsea chased the game - but said: 'I have to accept it, like everyone else who was not playing.
'It was a decision from the coach. The team sheet was put up before the game - and that was it.'
Ballack believes Chelsea's failure to control the game from the kick-off allowed Tottenham to seize the initiative.
'We couldn't control the game from the start,' he added.
'Tottenham looked a little bit sharper. When we scored the first goal we couldn't get a second and dropped a bit deeper in our own half.
'When you lose, you start to think why you didn't win. We have to think about our performance and do better in the future.
'We have to keep going in other competitions, because we are still a strong team with chances to win things.
'We have to start again. You want to win every trophy. We've lost one - and now we need to go for the others.'