Tommy Wright was left disappointed that St Johnstone’s young players did not take their chance to shine in their “disastrous” loss to Forfar Athletic.
The manager made five changes to a side that was unable to qualify for the last 16 going into their final group game against the League One part-timers.
Forfar progress after a 2-1 home win.
“When you’re a young player and you’re given opportunities, you’ve got to come in and stamp your authority on the game,” Wright told Saints TV.
“The senior players can have off days and quite a few of them didn’t play well today either, but over a season, I know what they give me.”
St Johnstone had also lost to League One side Montrose and Championship winners Ross County, who topped the group with four straight wins as Wright’s side finished fourth.
“I think it sums up our campaign – disastrous – and obviously the buck stops with me,” he said.
“But the players have got to take responsibility for their performances, particularly the ones put in against Montrose and Forfar.”
Madis Vihmann, the Estonia centre-half on loan from Flora, was handed his debut, while 19-year-old midfielder Ali McCann and 21-year-old striker Callum Hendry also started along with experienced playmaker Liam Craig and back-up goalkeeper Elliot Parish as Wright altered the side that beat Brechin City 4-0 in midweek.
“I think at times our fans would be scratching their head thinking which side is the Premiership side and which is the League One side,” he complained.
“It was a pretty young team we put out today, but again the team was geared up almost as another test to see if certain ones could do well and cope with it and it’s evident that one or two probably aren’t just ready yet to start regularly in the first team, particularly in the SPFL.
“No disrespect to Forfar, we’re a Premiership club, but we didn’t look like it today.”