Derby manager Gary Rowett says he his side have a bright future ahead and will be stronger next season after they finished with a 1-1 draw at Rotherham.
The Rams earned a point through Tom Ince’s 84th-minute penalty after Will Hughes was tripped by Jonson Clarke-Harris.
Rotherham had led through Lee Frecklington’s 66th-minute strike but the Millers finished the campaign rock-bottom of the Sky Bet Championship.
Derby finished 13 points off the play-off spots in ninth and Rowett says he is looking forward to the close season as he builds for a promotion push.
He said: “Of course we wanted to finish as strongly as we could. Our form over the last nine games has been around play-off form. We have shown we can be in and around those areas, the difference is that last little bit.
“What we have to do next season is be better in terms of our standards.
“In truth I’ve been waiting for this point because now we can crack on and our work now will define what our team looks like next season.
“I told them at half-time that it was a free game and I wanted them to be bright and do what they do in training every day. It’s easier to say it than it is to do it.
“You could see when there were some 50/50 challenges that some players were thinking about their summer holidays and not wanting to get injured.
“I can’t fault their effort – I thought we just didn’t play with enough quality in the right areas.”
Rotherham’s manager Paul Warne says he has seen some encouraging displays since he was appointed and the club have finished a nightmare season unbeaten in three.
He said: “I’m pretty chuffed. I know that I am in charge of some record-breaking lows but just recently we have done well. It does give me a little bit of hope that I can manage this club for a little bit longer.
“I’ve taken this job on because I think I can do good. I am putting every single ounce of effort in that I can.
“I am under no illusions about League One. I have watched a lot of games in League One and it’s not going to be easy. I am looking forward to the pressure of match day going away for a bit.
“I’m not disappointed with the draw. On another day it could have been 2-0 which would have been unbelievable. We said at half-time to have a go and on another day we could have got the win.
“They had a lot of possession but they didn’t rip us apart.”