As coach Terry O'Neill headed for the sanctuary of a quiet interview a sympathetic spectator commiserated.
"Well played, Terry," was the throwaway line.
O'Neill: "No it wasn't."
Aptly put because Promotem Napier City Rovers were, overall, a little shy in their 5-3 loss to Geon Taradale in the Hawke's Bay Knockout Cup final at Petane Domain, Eskview, on Saturday.
Effectively, it was a game of two bursts.
Dale claimed a staccato of three goals in a five-minute burst and the Rovers two in the space of three.
"The three we scored in the five minutes was the key because once we got those we took control of the game," Dale player/co-coach Warren Gilbertson said.
"We said at halftime the key was getting one more goal for that [buffer]," Gilbertson said, as they increased the halftime 3-1 lead just two minutes after play resumed.
He lauded Rovers for pushing up the numbers but felt Dale, seeking their first knockout gold medals, weathered the storm by putting bodies behind the ball.
The "older variety" blokes hung on because the expansive field didn't do them any favours.
O'Neill agreed with the turning point of the game.
"Obviously the three goals they scored in the [five-minute] spell was the telling factor.
"To come back from 3-nil down was tough but we did," he said, lamenting the Rovers inability to hit first after halftime as it could have stopped the rot.
Generally, the Rovers were not strong enough on the ball and almost guilty of harbouring an attitude of signing off for the season without picking up an injury by avoiding match-defining tackles although centre-mid Patrick Pilz's aggressiveness did result in two goals.
The young Blues afforded Dale far too much time and space. Striker Chris McIvor, who claimed a hat-trick of goals, started the raid in the 19th minute when he nodded the ball past goalkeeper Jonty Underhill after midfielder Dean Johnston outfoxed two defenders to left winger Mike Daly to cross it to McIvor at the far post.
Two minutes later, McIvor became provider from the right flank to the far post to Johnston whose header grazed the crossbar but Richard Gearey following up on the near post used his noggin for a 2-0 lead.
With the Blues still looking like stunned mullets, Dale extended the lead to 3-0 in the 23rd minute as McIvor worked the ball into the 18m box from an oblique angle on the left flank before crisply slipping it under Underhill.
Rovers striker Matt Single pulled one back to 3-1 in the 35th minute with a slippery header that beat Dale keeper Chris Penny.
Two minutes later Sven Exeter butchered a goal with Penny on the ground after a parry.
At the other end, Daly was lucky not to be warned in the 42nd minute as he lunged at the ball while on the ground inside the 18m box after missing a scoring opportunity.
Keeper Underhill failed to find lift off just before halftime while clearing a ball but, fortunately for the Rovers, McIvor's shot curled just wide of the upright.
Dale midfielder Adam Turner made it 4-1 just two minutes into the second spell after following up on a shot Underhill parried.
McIvor's hat-trick and a 5-1 lead came in the 57th minute when he beat a lone defender following a through ball that left Underhill no chance but to come out of his goal.
A McIvor goal was disallowed in the 64th minute but Pilz raised hopes in the 73rd minute when he prodded a ball into the net from a 5m melee to make it 5-2.
Rovers left winger Brad Greening didn't disappoint when he narrowed the gap to 5-3 with a drive to the bottom-right corner thanks to Pilz's peripheral vision.
Rovers picked up the ball from the net and started running the ball to the middle of the field but it was too little, too late.
Gilbertson had banked on his trump cards such as McIvor and Johnston to step up and they did with aplomb.
"Oh, he's [McIvor] a handful. He's a guy for big occasions. The tighter someone gets on him the more he gets fired up," he said, adding Johnston and the three defenders, Robbie Parker, young Corey Charleton and himself, were also on song.
The only downside was defensive midfielder Perry Cotton hobbling off with an injury but Gilbertson wasn't sure how bad it was as they try to secure him for this Saturday's season-ending Federation Cup final at Marewa Park, Napier.
Dale would dearly love to clinch the Fed Cup for a raucous celebration at the clubrooms at 6pm for their season's prize-giving ceremony and they are favourites.
"They'll [Rovers] have to behave themselves on Friday night because they have their prize-giving ceremony that night whereas we can let ourselves go so it'll be different."
Gilbertson said the first half was the best they had played this winter.
O'Neill said Dale were experienced and knew how to win games.
"They had the incentive from last year after losing the cup final," he said of Dale who lost in extra time to Cru Bar Maycenvale United after midfielder Jimmy Cudd was sent off.
O'Neill felt three of his players didn't step up on Saturday so heads would roll for the Fed Cup.
While McIvor has a penchant for creating space, he felt quality defenders should be able to negate his influence.
"I thought Dean Johnston was the difference in the midfield and ours didn't do as well as they could have," O'Neill said, with Central League pair Pilz and Matt Hastings forming the spine but they won't be eligible for the Fed Cup this Saturday.
Brazilian striker Paulo Silva was guilty of adopting a defensive mindset with a midfield stance.