Chief executive Gavin Baldwin has admitted Doncaster Rovers - as a club - were guilty of taking their eye off the ball in January.
Rovers slipped through the League One trapdoor despite sitting pretty in 11th at the start of the year.
“You look back to January and, probably as a club, we were driving away from the Stoke [FA Cup] game probably patting ourselves on the back and thinking ‘we’re all right here’,” said Baldwin.
“We got invited to the play-offs meeting with the Football League, thought we were doing all right, and it went horribly wrong.
“That’s probably one thing we have to take on the chin. We were quite happy with how we were performing. That’s probably the biggest lesson.”
Unlike any other season in recent memory, Rovers have concluded the majority of their business before pre-season training even starts. And Baldwin says the pain of relegation prompted an almost unprecedented summer of transfer activity.
“No one wanted relegation and no one expected relegation, and the owners are adamant that they don’t go through this again, and the pain of it,” he said.
“The owners all live locally and bump into people and they just don’t want that pain.
“We agreed a playing budget very early on, Darren [Ferguson] presented the players he thought would get us promotion and we were then tasked to go and get those players. A lot of the players we got in early because there was competition for them, and if we didn’t get them early other clubs would have got them. So we had to act quite quickly. Tommy Rowe, for instance, had clubs queuing up for him.
“We did it slightly differently this year in that Darren presented the team to the board that he thought would get promoted and then we created the budget from there. Whereas before we might have said ‘you’ve got X available’ and worked backwards from there, we actually worked forwards from which players do we actually want and which players are going to get us promoted.
“The owners have been successful in business throughout their lives and this hurt them. They don’t want it again and they’ve tasked Darren and myself with making sure it doesn’t happen again.”