Cardiff coach Dai Young admits the Blues early season form cost them dearly after they failed to secure a Magners League play-off spot against Munster.
The Blues collected their seventh consecutive victory with a 13-12 win against the Irish region but Munster’s losing bonus point secured the defending champions the coveted fourth place and final play-off spot.
And Young conceded losing five of their first seven matches had left the Blues with too steep a mountain to climb.
“We didn’t miss out on the play-offs because of this one game,” said Young, whose side still have an opportunity for silverware in the Amlin Challenge Cup final against Toulon on May 23.
“We lost a lot of games at the start of the season which we should have won and that’s got to be a clear lesson for next year.
“We have to start better and get more points on the board early on in the season and then we won’t have to catch up after Christmas.
“Looking at the Challenge Cup final in isolation, it’s probably a good thing we have got the next week off to make sure we are charging 100 per-cent for the final.”