Sir Alex Ferguson conceded that Manchester United were beaten by the best team he has faced after suffering defeat to Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League final.
Pep Guardiola's supremely gifted Primera Liga winners produced a stunning performance at Wembley to deservedly win 3-1 in London.
Pedro, Lionel Messi and David Villa scored Barcelona's goals to mean that Wayne Rooney's equaliser at 1-1 in the first half represented nothing but a consolation.
And Ferguson, who had seen his side comprehensively outplayed by Barcelona in the 2009 final, accepted that Guardiola's men are among the greatest in history.
"We were beaten, there is no other way to address the situation, by the best team," said United's boss.
"I expected us to do better but at the end of the day we were beaten by the better team.
"They are the best team we have ever played, they are at the peak in this cycle of their team.
"There was good evidence we are a consistently good European team but we were beaten by the best team in Europe and there is no shame in that.
"Sometimes you come up against a far better team and tonight was one of those nights."
With regard to his own team's performance, Ferguson, who lost an FA Cup semi-final to Manchester City at Wembley earlier in the season, admitted United's campaign had ended in frustrating fashion.
"We expected to do better, simple as that," he said.
"We have had a great season in many ways, it is just disappointing that we have been to Wembley twice and been beaten.
"We are just disappointed it has ended on this note."