Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill admitted the 7-1 defeat at Chelsea on Saturday had been one of the worst days of his managerial career but he refused to point the blame at tiredness.
Instead he pledged that his side would bounce back although their chances of finishing in fourth place now look slim with Tottenham seven points ahead.
Four goals from Frank Lampard, two from Florent Malouda and another from substitute Salomon Kalou, gave Chelsea their second seven-goal haul of the season at Stamford Bridge.
Villa's in-form striker John Carew had briefly stunned the Blues with a 29th-minute equaliser but Chelsea were back in front before the interval and then slammed another five past stunned Villa in second-half.
"We were well beaten," said O'Neill. "We allowed ourselves to go from maybe equalising the game at 2-2 to go to 3-1 down. For some obscure reason we just capitulated.
"We conceded ground, possession and goals and Chelsea were rampant at the end. It is too easy to talk about tiredness.
"I would not adhere to that. Everybody has a tough season. It is a tough business. This is the main part of the season. Before the game, I made a couple of changes to freshen things up a bit but generally speaking, the players were in fine fettle.
"We will have to recover for a start. We have the same opposition in the FA Cup semi-final but we are capable of turning it around. The players have shown that this season. It was a devastating blow but it was a lesson from a side that is one of the best in Europe."