Barnsley manager Keith Hill was pipped by Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday to the signing of Mike Jones from Bury.
The 24-year-old is out of contract in the summer and had been watched by Tykes chief Hill and his assistant David Flitcroft.
Yet Wednesday were the swifter of the two clubs and managed to land Jones' signature before handing him his debut in last Saturday's 1-0 defeat by Charlton Athletic.
"We wanted to sign Jones, but unfortunately we didn't manage to get out of the starting blocks," Hill told the Sheffield Star.
"Sheffield Wednesday are going for promotion and they've done well to sign him; we were very interested but they got there first.
"It's nobody's fault we missed out on him, we knew he was out of contract in the summer, but they've obviously offered him some good money."
Barnsley's interest in the player was very real but Hill was forthright enough to concede their interest never managed to progress to the stage where they could make a bid.
He added: "Unfortunately we weren't close at all in getting him, the deal was signed and done before we could get a chance to try and get him to sign.
"He's a very good player and the right calibre of player we believe we should be attracting to the club.
"Mike was one of a number of players we've been looking at, so we'll have to see what happens before the transfer window shuts."