Sir Alex Ferguson admitted Manchester United 'cut their own throats' with their poor first-half performance against AC Milan.
United saw their Champions League hopes brutally crushed in the San Siro, the Italians romping to a 3-0 win to scupper hopes of an all-English final and instead set up a rematch of the 2005 showpiece with Liverpool.
Ferguson's team never recovered from the loss of two goals inside the opening half hour of the semi-final second leg, that double blow effectively killing off any hope they had of getting through.
'It is disappointing to come so close,' said Ferguson. 'We had done so well to get here.
'Milan were fresher and better prepared physically but we had to cope better with that situation.
'We had to get through the first 25 minutes of the game without cutting our own throats. But we gave away two sloppy goals. We should not be losing goals like that.'
Brazilian Kaka, who scored twice in the first leg at Old Trafford last week, put Milan in front, with the excellent Clarence Seedorf adding another after half an hour.
Unable to keep possession for any length of time, the Red Devils were on the back foot for long periods and in Cristiano Ronaldo - so good so often this season - they had the game's major disappointment.
'Cristiano had a disappointing night,' said Ferguson. 'He knows that but he is a young man and on nights like these he sees the professionalism and experience of AC Milan.
'It is good to see where he has to go.'
United rallied at the start of the second half without looking likely to get the goal that would breathe fresh life into their challenge.
Darren Fletcher should have done better with the clearest opportunity and in the end it was Milan who scored again through Alberto Gilardino.
The only consolation for United is that they still have the domestic double to aim for.
However, as he spied Saturday's Manchester derby at Eastlands, Ferguson felt his team had been done no favours by the Premier League, who rejected their requested to move the game back to Sunday.
'The TV people were happy to have the game played on Sunday morning but the Premier League refused,' said Ferguson.
'They were worried about the integrity of the competition. You can work out what integrity means.
'I think it was an unfair decision. In other countries their leagues would help clubs to prepare for European games.
'We had a similar situation with the Premier League at Easter when they forced Tottenham to play one-and-a-half days after a European tie to help Chelsea in the Champions League.
'The Premier League shouldn't be interested in the Champions League. They should be interested in the Premier League, that is what they have done with their decision about us.'
Ferguson was happy with the performance of Nemanja Vidic, who was back in the United side for the first time since breaking his collarbone on March 31 and also Louis Saha, who was introduced to no avail in the final 20 minutes.
But one small piece of good news is that Rio Ferdinand should be fit to face City at the weekend after overcoming his recent groin problem.