Gary Locke accepts there is no excuse for Hearts' failure to achieve a top-six finish in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League even after a season of turmoil at Tynecastle.
Late payment of wages to players highlighted ongoing financial problems at a club which staved off a winding-up order in December after supporters raised more than £1million to help pay off tax debts.
While Hearts supporters' groups remain keen on fan ownership of the club, they have watched their side slump to second-bottom of the table while Locke was thrust into the managerial hot seat on a permanent basis last month following the departure of John McGlynn.
However, despite all that, the former Jambos skipper admits results this season should have been better.
Ahead of Saturday's visit of Ross County, who have secured a top-six finish in their first season in the SPL, Locke said: "A club like Heart of Midlothian should be in the top six.
"It's been a difficult season, not just on the pitch but off it as well.
"We've not had our problems to seek and we can't forget that the main thing this season for Hearts was survival.
"But even with all the problems we've had, I still think we should be in a better position than we are.
"I think it will be a transitional period for the club, the next few months.
"We're still a wee bit unsure about what is going to happen off the pitch, for starters.
"On the pitch, there are a lot of players out of contract, a lot of players out of contract at other clubs, too.
"So it's certainly a pre-season where there is a big rebuilding job to be done.
"It's refreshing for Scottish football that Inverness and Ross County are up there (top six) and Motherwell have been up there consistently for four or five years.
"But, for me, I just concentrate on Hearts and it's been disappointing for us, so hopefully we can do better next season."
Locke was fulsome in his praise of Derek Adams' men, who have arguably been this season's success story on the domestic front.
"Ross County have been fantastic and Derek Adams deserves every bit of praise he's getting," he said.
"It's brilliant to come up from the First Division and do so well.
"They've got a really good squad of players, very well organised and they work really hard for each other, so I've got nothing but admiration for the way they've gone about their business this season."