Heartbroken boss Chris Hargreaves said he was proud of his relegated Torquay United side as they went down fighting with a sparkling 3-1 win at Mansfield Town.
The Gulls' relegation rivals Northampton Town and Bristol Rovers both won, making this result irrelevant.
Mansfield helped Torquay on the way to a win with an own goal by John Dempster and a red card for striker Matt Rhead after 44 minutes, but in the end the Gulls sank back into the Conference just five years after last being promoted back into the Football League.
Hargreaves said: "I am proud of my players today. We could have won that game 10-1. It was a fluid performance of attacking football.
"Perhaps things have started to click with my players, it is just a little late. Results were always going to be a problem for us because they were out of our hands.
"I knew things were going to be tough when I came here but I did not see this happening. It is a devastating blow for me, my family and the fans.
"I would like to thank my players for their efforts and the fans for being here today, they were excellent.
"I am confident we can challenge in the Conference and I want to be the man to lead the team in the Conference.
"I can assure the fans that we will be working very hard to get ourselves back up. I don't expect too many changes to players. Above all I want players here who care about Torquay and want to play for the club."
Ashley Yeoman opened the scoring for the visitors before Dempster's own goal. James Jennings pulled one back for the Stags right at the start of the second period but Shaquile Coulthirst made sure of victory by netting a third.
Mansfield boss Paul Cox was upset with the 'end-of-season attitude' of his players, but said two defeats in a week had helped him make up his mind on his retained list.
"With where we have come from since Christmas time, the last two performances are unacceptable and I was very disappointed with our attitude today to say the least," he said.
"But everything happens for a reason and I am a bit philosophical about the last two games.
"To think we were closing in on the play-offs two games back seems laughable now.
"Part of me is glad the last two games have materialised how they have as it is as plain as the nose on your face what needs doing here.
"But, despite the two defeats, thinking with my head, I have to say we have had a very good season. If anyone had said we'd finish mid-table in our first season back in the league we'd have bitten their hand off.
"Now I have some big decisions to make, some of which will hurt me, but that is what I am paid to do. I don't want to stand still.
"It is heartbreaking for Torquay to go down as I thought they were excellent today.
"My heart goes out to them. They fully deserved their applause from our fans at the end and I am glad our supporters clapped them. Torquay showed desire and hunger.
"These two results were all about mindset and attitude and now how good they are as players.
"I get the feeling some of them are ready for the beach and holidays. Well they might be staying there for a while."