The disappointment was written all over the Wollongong Wolves faces.
Another year, another bitter semi-final exit.
Yet again, Sydney United 58 were the nemesis, the side claiming a 3-1 win on Sunday afternoon.
The result came after United eliminated the Wolves a year ago, the underdogs travelling down to Wollongong and returning home with an upset victory on each occasion.
Luke Wilkshire's squad spent the year building towards the semi-finals, desperate to avenge the 2019 loss and qualify for the NSW National Premier Leagues grand final.
Instead the side was left to rue a number of missed opportunities when the game was on the line in the second half.
"I'm devastated," veteran defender Chris Price said. "That's two years in a row, the same spot. I'm just disappointed.
"The key moments decided the match. It was pretty even, we had our chances, they had chances as well. They were just a little bit more clinical on the day."
The two teams have developed a fierce rivalry in recent years, with the intent from both sides on display from the early exchanges.
While Wollongong have burst out of the gates in their last two matches, it was the visitors who opened the scoring through a Patrick Antelmi penalty.
The Wolves levelled the scores in the 34th minute, Marcus Beattie latching on to a Josh Bingham pass before beating the goalkeeper.
Tensions erupted shortly after, a hard foul on Wollongong youngster Harry Taranto sparking a melee and numerous spot fires as players came rushing in from all angles.
Once the referees regained control of the match, both Antelmi and Thomas James were handed red cards, the two sides to play the final 50 minutes with 10 men.
That saw the match open up in the second half, the Wolves generating numerous attacking chances.
Each time they were denied, before United eventually earned a chance of their own.
This time Glen Trifiro made no mistake, a brilliant strike from the top of the box handing his side a 2-1 lead in the 73rd minute.
The hosts pushed hard for an equaliser, however Matthew Sim secured a United victory with an 85th minute goal.
"Before their second goal, we were dominating," Wilkshire said.
"We were in control of the game. You cop a goal, it's a great finish and it changes things. It's disappointing."
The defeat brings to an end a long year for the Wolves. One that started with the original competition in March, before it was shutdown and relaunched in July.
The challenges continued in recent months, the team battling a torrid injury run and off-field struggles.
Once they enjoy a break, Wilkshire is confident his players will return determined to make amends for Sunday's defeat.
"It's like a morgue in there, but we've got to pick ourselves up and we'll go again. This team's hungry for success.
"We'll have a well-earned break, they've had a tough year, stop and start, what's gone on on the field, off the field, injuries and all the rest of it.
"It's been a tough year but I'm proud of them and we'll go again next year."