Barnsley manager Simon Davey admitted his side's run to the FA Cup semi-finals contributed to their slide down the Championship after a 2-1 win at Preston.
The Tykes suffered the double agony of losing to Cardiff at Wembley last Sunday and slipping into the relegation places.
The 2-1 win at Deepdale marks only their third away win of the season and lifted them to within two points of Preston.
Diego Leon hit a stunning free-kick in the first half before former North End striker Jon Macken scored a penalty.
Skipper Stephen Foster then headed in a bizarre own goal to set up a nervous finish but Davey saw his side hang on for three vital points.
"The cup has been a distraction," admitted Davy. "We had a fantastic run, which was a great journey for everyone concerned but if the four games that we won in the cup were in the league we'd be safe now.
"We found ourselves going to an FA Cup semi-final and dropping into the bottom three, which was hard to take.
"We've picked up two great results - but we're not there yet. The players have had three very tough games in the last week.
"But they have bounced back from the disappointment of Wembley and have been fantastic.
"Our priority has always been the league and we need to stay in the Championship."
Preston manager Alan Irvine admitted his side are still involved in a scrap to avoid relegation after the defeat.
North End had been on a good run of form going seven games unbeaten prior to kick-off but Irvine insists it might take a record number of points to ensure safety.
"Every week I get asked if we are safe yet and I certainly don't think so," said Irvine.
"The quality in good positions was disappointing. We dominated for long periods but we didn't pick out the right pass or make the right run in good areas.
"Someone will go down with a record number of points this year with a record low tally as well and all those points that normally get won at the top are being shared out."