Vincenzo Montella was left mystified by Fiorentina's "tense" start to Saturday night's Coppa Italia final against Napoli, admitting that his players were "unrecognisable" during the opening quarter of their 3-1 defeat.
The Viola found themselves two goals down after just 17 minutes of play at the Stadio Olimpico, with Lorenzo Insigne netting twice for the Partenopei.
Juan Vargas pulled one back for Fiorentina just before the half-hour mark and they fought bravely to force extra-time only to concede a killer goal on the break to Dries Mertens in injury time.
Montella was proud of the way in which his players - and the club's fans - responded to adversity but was still at a loss to explain why his side looked so inhibit in the early exchanges.
"I don't know why we started out tense and unrecognisable," the former Roma boss told Rai Sport.
"We got back into it, but it was very tough against a strong side and we were missing some key players."
Indeed, last summer's star signing, Mario Gomez, did not feature in the Italian capital, in-form winger Juan Cuadrado was suspended, while top scorer Giuseppe Rossi could only manage 20 minutes in his first game back after nearly four months out with ligament damage.
Montella is, therefore, optimistic that Fiorentina, who are set to finish fourth in Serie A, will fare even better next season.
"I thank the players for what they did on the night, but also the fans who cheered us on from start to finish and are continuing to reassure us now," the ex-Italy international stated.
"The supporters were fantastic and it wasn't easy considering the result, but they can see what the club, players and directors are bringing forward.
"Despite what some might think, the Italian league is very competitive and we'll be able to count on Rossi next season."