Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan has described his team's 5-0 thrashing against the Perth Glory as "irrelevant".
The five-goal defeat meant the Phoenix slipped below Melbourne City to sixth on the ladder and earned them a date against defending champions Melbourne Victory in an elimination final on Friday night.
A win, draw, or one-goal loss against Perth would have seen the Phoenix remain fifth and instead face fourth-placed Adelaide United on Sunday.
Rudan fielded a second-string side against Perth, with regular starters Roy Krishna, Filip Kurto, Michael Kopczynski on the bench, while Andrew Durante and Alex Rufer were left out of the match-day squad.
Victory will head into the match as favourites and Rudan insists the 5-0 defeat hasn't dented his side's confidence, as they prepare for the first playoff match since the 2014/15 season.
"It's irrelevant," Rudan said. "I told the boyd straight away, we're preparing for Victory, and it is all about finals football and the bigger picture.
"You guys from the outside might look at a result and think, 'Oh geez, this ain't good'.
"Not for me, not for us."
Rudan wouldn't confirm whether the Phoenix were playing to lose in an attempt to get a more favourable match-up, based on results this season.
Against the Victory, the Phoenix have played out three draws - two 1-1 and one 3-3 - two of which were in the Victorian capital.
Their results against Adelaide haven't been as pretty, with two 3-1 defeats and a goal-less draw. On top of that, the Phoenix haven't won in South Australia since 2014.
"I was playing to prepare for finals football, regardless if it was against Adelaide or Victory.
"We had a plan, we wanted to get minutes into certain players. The ones who started had a job, simple as that.
"It would have been ridiculous of me to start my best side tonight. Ridiculous, knowing we had to fly eight hours and do it again.
"We used the game for our own purposes and we got what we needed out of the game, as far as I'm concerned.
"It was all about the bigger picture."
Rudan said any criticism would be used as fuel for his side.
"I know you guys will talk the score up. For me and for us, the more you want to do that, the better it is for us.
"We've been outsiders from day one. A lot of you guys sitting here had us as wooden-spooners at the start of the season and if you didn't, then the rest of you had us finishing ninth.
"I think we've proven everyone wrong. It doesn't bother us one little bit, because more than likely, we'll be written off for the finals as well and it's just how we like it."
Join us at 9:50pm Friday for live updates of the Phoenix v Victory A-League playoff match.