Jobi McAnuff has described Reading's season as "overwhelmingly disappointing" but believes they can bounce back from relegation at the first attempt.
Having won the npower Championship in style last season, the Berkshire club are preparing for life in the second tier once again.
Reading have just six wins to their name and saw relegation confirmed with three matches still remaining.
There have been positive signs since Nigel Adkins took over as Reading manager on March 26 and captain McAnuff believes next term will be a lot better.
"It has been overwhelmingly disappointing," he told Press Association Sport. "We feel we should have got a better points haul than we have done.
"Of course, the goal was to stay up and we have not achieved that so ultimately it is very disappointing.
"I think you can see in our performances that progress has been made [under Adkins].
"From our point of view, I think it is a positive that we have had that time to work with him before the start of next year when we can hit the deck running.
"He has had time to feel us out and vice-versa. He knows what he is going to need over the summer and what we are capable of so I think that will help us going into next season.
"From our point of view, I think it is a real plus that we have kept the real core of the squad together that won the title.
"We've got players that know how to get out of the league and that the Championship is as much about the mental side as the physical.
"We know what the demands are going to be and feel we will have a fighting chance next year, especially with the time we have had under the new gaffer."
Those chances could be harmed if the vultures swoop for any of Reading's standout players.
Alex McCarthy, Jem Karacan and Adam Le Fondre are amongst those linked with a move, while Press Association Sport understands QPR and Cardiff are interested in McAnuff.
"I am happy here," the Royals skipper said. "I have been here a very long time now and feel really settled at the club.
"My immediate thought is to try and get back in the Premier League with Reading and have a good year next year after what has been a disappointing one this year."
Reading travel to fellow promoted side West Ham on the final day of the campaign and on Tuesday night came close to getting a result against Manchester City.
Sergio Aguero gave City the lead late in the first half at the Madejski Stadium, before Reading valiantly attempted to force a leveller.
Only last-ditch defending and the fine form of Joe Hart kept the Royals at bay, with Edin Dzeko making it 2-0 in the closing stages.
"It would have been nice to get a result," McAnuff added.
"They are a top, top team and we've got to be better from a goals against point of view. It doesn't matter who we are playing, both goals were sloppy and it was disappointing.
"We had a few chances and I think if Pavel [Pogrebnyak]'s one had gone in it might have been a slightly different story.
"Credit to the lads, we pushed on in the second half and tried to get something from the game and caused them a few problems.
"As I say, they are a decent team and will always create a few chances but in the second half I thought we more than held our own."