Derby manager Steve McClaren said his side did not deserve their narrow defeat by QPR in the Championship play-off final at Wembley.
The London side secured their return to the Premier League on Saturday when Bobby Zamora scored following a mistake from Derby's Richard Keogh late on.
Zamora's goal was QPR's only shot on target during the match.
"I've lost some games in my career but that is the cruellest. We didn't deserve that," McClaren told BBC Sport.
The former England manager, who was assistant to QPR boss Harry Redknapp before taking over at Pride Park in September 2013, added: "You don't often get what you deserve. For somebody to make mistakes - we don't blame anybody."
Derby played against 10 men for the final 30 minutes of the match after Gary O'Neil was sent off for a late challenge on Johnny Russell as he was closing in on goal.
"QPR showed their experience, they made it tight but they never looked like scoring," said McClaren.
"We had a lot of the ball, got it wide and put it in dangerous areas but credit to QPR, they made it hard to break down. They held their nerve and unfortunately they got the moment.
"Football tests your character at times. But the players stepped up to a big test and dominated the game with great energy and passion. Humility is a key thing in football and this will make us stronger."