Captain Rory Best battled with his emotions as he played his last game in an Ulster jersey on Friday night in Scotstoun, Glasgow.
The 50-20 reverse to Glasgow Warriors in a Guinness PRO14 Final Series semi-final was not how Ulster wanted their season to end.
Nor was it the way those in the squad had wanted to send both their captain and Darren Cave - also retiring at the end of the season - off.
While massively disappointed with the result, Best admitted afterwards that it was not a nice feeling knowing that was his last appearance for his Province.
“That realisation that I won’t even be pulling on an Ulster jersey again was not a nice feeling,” the 36-year said.
“It is something I have given so much to. But all good things have to come to an end eventually.
“Ulster are in a good place and that’s the way you would want them to leave them at the end of your career,” added Best, who will hang up his professional boots at the end of Ireland’s involvement in the Rugby World Cup this autumn in Japan.
There had been high hopes that Best would go on to lead Ulster into Saturday’s PRO14 final in Glasgow and lift the trophy at Celtic Park.
But Glasgow were a side on fire and simply blew the Irish Province away from the off to secure a showdown with defending champions Leinster on Saturday.
Best said: “We are hurting from this defeat, we came here fully expecting to win, felt we had the game plan and players to do it.
“Glasgow played really well and we probably did not give it our best shot.
“But when you take a breath - and it probably will be a day or two - and you look back at what we have achieved, putting that game and result to the side, I think this season is something we can be immensley proud of.
“Nobody would have given us a chance of making a home quarter-final and was probably a year to scrap, but I think we have shown a lot of stubborness at times, a lot of great play, a lot of belief and fundamentally, a lot to build on.
“It we look at the season as a while I think we can be immensely proud of what we have achieved.”
Best finishes his Ulster career after 15 seasons with 221 appearances, 115 points and two spells as captain.
“It is something I have enjoyed and I still have a World Cup to come with Ireland,” added Best.