Karl Robinson praised his MK Dons players for a professional performance, while also sympathising with Rochdale, who his side beat 2-1 at Spotland.
A third minute strike from Jay O'Shea put the visitors in front and substitute Dean Bowditch scored with his first touch after the break to seal a win. Although Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro pulled one back for the home side, the outcome was never in doubt and moved the Dons a step closer to cementing a fourth-placed finish.
"You had to feel for Rochdale because, with their fate already settled, this was always going to be a difficult game for them to bounce back," said Robinson.
He went on: "John Coleman and his staff have tried hard to lift a de-motivated squad since they took over, but they inherited a team which had been losing games, and you could see why.
"But I thought we were thoroughly professional. This has not always been a happy hunting ground for us, but this victory made up for that.
"It wasn't really an enjoyable game from my point of view. It wasn't a thrilling match, but we had a project coming into the game and we executed that really well."
That fact his side failed to rouse themselves after Akpa Akpro's goal left Rochdale manager Coleman disappointed.
"I didn't think there was much in the game," he said. "It's a professional performance if you win a game and MK Dons did that, but I think we had as many efforts as they did and we pulled a goal back, but didn't create anything after that which was disappointing.
"But what you had out there was a team that believed it was going to win and a team that doesn't believe it's going to win games.
"That's probably the reason why they have won 2-1 and it's probably the reason why they are going into the play-offs and we have been relegated."