St Helens coach Mick Potter admitted his side were never able to recover from a slow start as they were beaten 22-10 by Wigan in the Grand Final.
Saints leaked three tries inside the opening quarter to fall 16-0 behind in the title showdown against their arch rivals at Old Trafford.
Andrew Dixon's try before the break gave them a glimmer of hope but a pair of penalties from Mark Riddell and a try from Sam Tomkins meant it was the Cherry and Whites who ran out comfortable winners.
Winger Francis Meli did grab a late score but it was no more than a consolation for Saints, as they suffered a fourth straight Grand Final defeat.
"We did some things we didn't practise for, though there was certainly no lack of effort," he said. "We started off on the back foot.
"We burned a lot of energy in the first 20 minutes. I wouldn't say it was won or lost then but it certainly contributed. It's hard to pull back a hefty score and against a quality team it makes it double hard.
"Even though we did make some breaks, we probably forced a couple of balls and made some uncharacteristic errors.
"I thought up until 10 minutes from the end we were still in the game. We just needed something to go our way and it didn't happen tonight but I don't want to take anything away from how well Wigan performed."
Defeat was a disappointing end to Potter's two-year reign at the club. He leaves for Bradford as the only St Helens coach not to have lifted a trophy in the Super League era.
"It probably could have been worse," he added. "We finished in both Grand Finals so that's not too bad.
"The players have been fantastic over the last two years and I take my hat off to them for the way they performed week in, week out.
"I would have liked to have done better but I tried my hardest for the club. I don't have too many regrets."
The defeat also meant skipper Keiron Cunningham failed to go out with a flourish before joining the club's coaching staff.
The veteran hooker addressed the rest of the St Helens squad in the dressing room after playing the last match of his distinguished 17-year career.
"He spoke about how he's loved every moment of it," said Potter. "He knows he's had enough, he's going to move on.
"He's a bit emotional, with the realisation that it's all over. It's probably just starting to hit him."