Shrewsbury Town manager Paul Hurst insists the promotion-chasing League One side’s season must not be allowed to ‘peter out’ after Sunday’s Checkatrade Trophy final letdown.
Hurst became the fourth Town boss to make an unsuccessful visit to English football’s national stadium.
But his side may be back in May if they fail to overhaul Wigan Athletic and Blackburn and finish in the top two.
“I admit it could be a dress rehearsal for us,” Hurst told BBC Sport.
“There is that thought. But there’s a lot of football to be played before that, and we are still in a great position with big games coming up, irrespective of whether we finish in the top two, or in the play-off positions.”
“The very clear message to the players is that, for large parts of this season, they’ve been fantastic and we don’t want to let that slip away and just peter out.”
There are still nine separate matchdays affecting the top three in League One before the season is over on 5 May.
Leaders Blackburn and second-placed Wigan have a chance to go further clear of Shrewsbury on Tuesday, but Hurst’s men are then in back in action at Bradford City two nights later.
“It’s on national TV, which I’m quite pleased about as it’s not the place to feel sorry for yourself.” said Hurst. “Hopefully. we’ll show we’re a better team than we looked at Wembley.”
“I’m just another manager with another group of players who haven’t been able to delivery victory at Wembley and that hurts, but it’s been and gone now and we’ve not lost any points.”
He added: “I’ve told the players ‘You need to go home, take a look at yourselves in the mirror and be honest and ask ‘Did you play as well as you can?'”
“One or two will be kicking themselves. We all laugh and joke and say ‘Can you handle it?’ Clearly, one or two didn’t.”
“We know the magnitude of the games to come and the expectation. And we’ve got to handle them more like we have done so far this season.”