The Stags retained their title after Albirex Niigata's failure to get three points against Balestier Khalsa on Sunday night, rendering their match against Home United one day later inconsequential.
It was an unfamiliar side of Tampines as they were pegged back by Home and offered little in terms of offensive chances at the Bishan Stadium on Monday evening, in a match that ended 2-0 to the Protectors.
The league's top-scoring side were comfortably held at bay and Tay admitted his side failed to turn up, suggesting that his players may have grown complacent after securing the title.
“Basically the whole team is not motivated, the whole team played badly except for the goalkeeper [Andre Martins],” he lamented after the game.
“Look at this, the whole situation is this: sometimes as the champions, it’s really difficult. We tried to motivate them to play, even the boss [chairman] came down."
However, the Stags coach wanted his side to be professional and play better despite motivation being hard to come by, as he wanted to be fair to the teams battling to scale the table.
“Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter because whatever it is, we will still try our best to get the players motivated to play good football because the second place [may] also be decided through us," he explained.
“They are professionals, so they have to play their best whatever the situation.
"I don’t know [how to motivate them]; that’s a good question, but I have got no answer now. It is really difficult, professionals have their own thinking, you know. Most of them tried, but not whole-heartedly."
Tay’s counterpart, Lee Lim Saeng, was happy after his side managed to play their style of offensive football as he aimed to cement his side’s place in the table.
“We worked very hard and tried to show good football, not only on this ground but anywhere,” Lee said.
“Of course [second place] is my aim, it is second place of the league. The championship is out of reach, so this is my target with my players, so hopefully we can achieve it together.”