Bath captain Steve Borthwick hailed "a mammoth effort" from his team after they ended their 10-year wait for a major trophy.
England skipper Borthwick concluded his Bath career by lifting the European Challenge Cup following a punishing 24-16 victory over Worcester at Kingsholm.
Borthwick, who joins Saracens next season, and Gloucester-bound Olly Barkley were both given dream send-offs.
Barkley kicked 11 points, while first-half tries from flanker Jonny Faamatuainu and full-back Nick Abendanon allowed Bath breathing space against fiercely-committed opponents.
Borthwick said: “It has been a huge effort, a mammoth effort, by the guys this season.
“And to lift a trophy at the end of it is fantastic.
“I’ve had a great 10 years at Bath and I have been privileged to have had the opportunity to play alongside so many talented players.”
Barkley added: “The way we played this season showed the belief is there. This side, without me and ‘Borthers’, are on to bigger things.
“Today was not about rugby for me, it was about leaving a group of people that I love.
“I will keep in touch with these boys and I will miss them dearly, but it is a new challenge now.”
Bath last landed silverware when they won the 1998 Heineken Cup, subsequently losing four successive finals in three different competitions.
Head coach Steve Meehan said: “Over the course of the 80 minutes I felt we were the better team.
“And this must be the start of something now. We have got to get better - you cannot stand still.”
Neither Worcester skipper Pat Sanderson nor rugby director Mike Ruddock refused to blame French referee Christophe Berdos for losing the first major final in Warriors’ history.
A Worcester victory would have secured European Cup qualification next season, but Harlequins will now take England’s sixth European place, joining Bath, Gloucester, Leicester, Wasps and Sale Sharks.
Shane Drahm kicked three penalties for the Warriors and full-back Thinus Delport scored a late try that substitute Joe Carlisle converted.
The Warriors though, saw Berdos fail to reach for a yellow card on at least three occasions when Bath blatantly infringed.
Sanderson said: “We might have got a better rub of the green, but you cannot take anything away from Bath.
“We have got to manage the referee as well, which is something we must learn. Ultimately though, we came up short.
“But I believe Worcester is an exciting place to be, and I am excited about what is going to happen next season. This is a team that really wants to do well.”
Ruddock added: “There is a lot of emotion in a cup final and there are a number of talking points, but Bath were more streetwise than us.
“We have got to be proud of our achievement after a difficult start to the season.
“We have made a lot of progress this season, but we weren’t quite there today under the pressures of a final.”