Sutton's dejection after the 3-2 defeat by St Mirren in the Scottish Communities League Cup final was evident but he could still see good times ahead after Locke was appointed as John McGlynn's permanent successor 24 hours before the Hampden clash.
Locke took four points from three Scottish Premier League games as caretaker manager but an attacking display in a 2-0 win over St Johnstone went some way to persuading the Hearts hierarchy to hand him the reins.
Sutton often found himself sidelined by the formations of Paulo Sergio and McGlynn after the man who signed him, Jim Jefferies, was sacked three games into last season.
Hearts will cut back their wage bill even further in the summer but Sutton is optimistic about the future after being encouraged by elements of the performance, if not the result, at Hampden.
Sutton, who has a year left on his contract, said of Locke's appointment: "It's great news, everyone is really pleased. The last few performances we have been on the front foot.
"A lot has been made about what's going to happen to the squad. I'm really hopeful that most of us are going to stay together.
"You always have comings and goings but if you look at our performance, it is a strong squad.
"If we can get everyone fit and playing in a similar manner to what we have been, I don't think we are far away from doing well.
"But at the moment our season has been really poor."
Hearts were looking to rescue their campaign at Hampden after their reign as William Hill Scottish Cup holders ended with defeat against Hibernian.
With Hearts in 10th place in the SPL, six points and eight goals behind their sixth-placed Edinburgh rivals with two games to the split, only a freak sequence of results can put them into the top six.
That situation will exacerbate their pain from the cup final, which had started so well for them.
Sutton headed against the post after Ryan Stevenson had given Hearts a 10th-minute lead but Saints turned the game on its head after being outplayed in the opening 36 minutes and survived a late fightback during which Stevenson scored again and hit the woodwork twice.
Sutton said: "We had our chances and didn't take them and they probably had a few less but they took them very well.
"That's football, Inverness will probably feel aggrieved that they missed some chances and went out on penalties (in the semi-finals). The shoe is on the other foot a bit this time.
"St Mirren were very clinical with their chances so we can't have too much complaints.
"We just weren't quite good enough on the day so well done to St Mirren. We'll have to come back stronger next year."