Sale Sharks director of rugby Kingsley Jones admitted running European giants Toulouse close couldn't make up for the frustration of defeat.
Sale made the three-times European Champions work hard for a 19-13 victory that saw Toulouse secure a home quarter final next April.
But, while the Sharks almost stole victory in the closing moments and were always in touch in a hard-fought game, the over-riding emotion for Jones was one of disappointment.
"I thought we did have a good chance of getting a win in the last 10 minutes but, ultimately, it's a defeat," said Jones, after his side finished third in Pool 5.
"We played some good stuff. We started brightly and did quite well there.
"It was a good performance in terms of the attitude but I was disappointed with our discipline.
"We also need to learn to manage the referee better. I know it's a fine line but things didn't go for us in the second half."
With Cardiff Blues claiming a bonus-point win at Harlequins, Sale would not have qualified for the last eight of either the Heineken Cup or Amlin Challenge Cup whatever their own result at Edgeley Park.
But that didn't stop Jones and his team from seeking to inflict a serious scalp on one of the continent's best sides, even when it became clear that the Blues were home and dry at The Stoop.
Jones instead admitted that, although his team put in a much-improved performance from their 36-19 defeat in the Welsh Capital last weekend, it was Toulouse who carried out their game plan more effectively on the day.
"Regardless of the outcome at Quins, we don't want to lose at home," added Jones.
"I would have been happy to have a go today and to see what would have come of it. But Toulouse came here to do a job and they did the job they wanted and got the win.
"They're a great side and their kicking game is very patient. They'll keep kicking it and kicking it and kicking it until you make a bad decision.
"I thought they caused us problems in the second half in the tackle area whereas, in the first half, we caused them problems.
"We've got the squad we've got and the boys are playing hard and working hard but we know we need some power.
"Andy Tuilagi brought us an edge when he came on. At the end of the day, rugby is all about going forward and Andy gave us a lot of go forward.
"We've got a lot of young men and we need a few experienced men around them. When we've got all our experienced men fit, we can cause problems."