Gary Caldwell is confident Scotland can enjoy a successful future under Craig Levein after missing out on a Euro 2012 play-off spot.
Scotland needed to beat world and European champions Spain on Tuesday to guarantee pipping the Czech Republic to second place in Group I, but suffered a convincing 3-1 defeat.
David Silva's first-half double followed by a David Villa goal demonstrated Spain's dominance in Alicante before David Goodwillie scored a consolation from the penalty spot.
The result means Scotland's wait to reach a major finals continues after failing to qualify for a tournament since the 1998 World Cup in France.
However, Wigan defender Caldwell believes there were positives to take from the game which will stand them in good stead for the World Cup qualifying campaign which starts next year.
"Some of the football they played was exceptional," he said. "It was very difficult to deal with.
"But nights like last night are encouraging, we were up against the best team in the world and many teams would have folded but we never did and that was very encouraging.
"We showed we can compete and we are going to be playing lesser teams in the next competition and hopefully we will do a bit better.
"Craig Levein was a new manager at the start of the campaign and he had to find out things about the players and what formation he was going to play and we have got to a level now where the manager knows he can go forward and we can be successful."
Scotland have been drawn in Group A for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers and will face Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, Macedonia and Wales for a place in the finals in Brazil.