Gianfranco Zola's frustration at losing 1-0 to Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-finals of the Barclays Asia Trophy was tempered by the knowledge it will be a valuable lesson for the new season.
Jermain Defoe struck the only goal of the game 15 minutes from time and, despite a whole-hearted effort from the Hammers, they could not find a way past Spurs goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini in Beijing.
To make matters worse, Luis Boa Morte suffered cruciate knee ligament damage after he landed awkwardly in the 14th minute before carried off and taken to hospital with his leg in a brace. Although clearly concerned for their team-mate's well-being, Zola was keen not to use the injury as an excuse for his players' inability to overcome their rivals.
"I am really sorry for him [Boa Morte]." Zola said. "I think certainly the injury was one of the problems but physically we need to catch up a little bit." As well as the need to sharpen up, the manager made no secret of the fact the club are looking to bring in new recruits, particularly up front - although Switzerland Under-19 left-back Fabio Daprela could also arrive this week.
CEO Scott Duxbury and technical director Gianluca Nani chose not to travel to Beijing, as they instead concentrated their efforts on securing the manager's transfer targets. Having travelled across Europe since last weekend, they remain in close contact with Zola and his coaching staff.
There are three weeks to go until the start of the new season and the aim is to add more forward thinking to those currently available for selection - namely Carlton Cole, Zavon Hines and Frank Nouble. The likes of Junior Stanislas - wearing No9 as part of the Premier League rules on China squad numbers going from 1-24 - and Savio will also add to the attacking options.
Zola, who has Dean Ashton and Terry Dixon working on their fitness back in London, said: "We talked about the forward positions already last season. We need to improve that part. We are working on that. Obviously when you are at the beginning of the pre-season and you lack a little bit of condition you notice it the most in attack.
"It is easy to have problems going forward because you need to be sharp and quick," he added, mindful of the fact Spurs arrived in China with the benefit of two testing fixtures with Barcelona and Celtic and his own side's warm-up date with Werder Bremen having been forced off.
"Right now we are not sharp and quick but it is something that we knew about and it is not going to be a problem. We are going to sort it out."
In front of 100 or so loyal travelling supporters, the Hammers put in a tireless shift in hot and humid conditions at the Workers Stadium, but were unable to turn some neat passing into clear-cut chances. Zola will now have a day to prepare his players before they look to secure third place in the tournament when they play Beijing Guoan on Friday evening. Kick off is at 11am UK time.
"We were not as good as we could be but it is the first real match we played," he added. "We have worked hard so it is understandable. The conditions are there for us and for the opposition as well so I don't think it is that. We have worked very hard and this was the first real match for us.
"I am going to use it as a good game to see the problems and to work on them. I take it in a positive way."