Mike Ford: Bath will learn from Challenge Cup defeat
Bath must come back stronger from their Amlin Challenge Cup final defeat by Northampton Saints, according to head coach Mike Ford.
The Rec outfit failed to end their six-year wait for a trophy after losing 30-16 in Cardiff on Friday.
And their cup defeat came two weeks after they narrowly missed out on a Premiership play-off place.
"We'll learn from this. We've got no choice but to learn from this," Ford told BBC Points West.
"We saw them lift the trophy and it hurts. But that needs to fuel our ambition and energy for next season.
"We're so close. The foundations are there we just need the courage to keep doing what we're doing.
"I'm so proud of the boys. To get so close is gut wrenching but we have to take it on the chin. You can't sulk too long, you need to move on."
Before rugby union turned professional in 1995 Bath dominated the domestic game, winning six league titles and 10 cup competitions.
But they have not won a major trophy since their Challenge Cup victory in 2007-08 against Worcester and are yet to secure the Premiership title.
They looked set to reach the play-offs this season after spending all but one week in the top four.
However, their final-day defeat by Harlequins saw Conor O'Shea's side leapfrog Bath and claim the fourth and final place.
And Ford admits his side's failure to beat the teams that finished above them - Saracens, Saints, Leicester and Quins - was their biggest downfall.
"We haven't won enough of the big games this year, in my opinion," said the former England defence coach.
"The bigger teams have played really well against us and we just couldn't get over the line.
"We want to win something quickly but sometimes you come up against teams like Northampton who know how to win big games.
"It's difficult but the future and the potential of this team is massive."