David Ripley was left to reflect on the failure to convert a good group position as the Steelbacks bowed out of the NatWest T20 Blast.
Even if they had managed to win their home game against Durham, which was abandoned due to rain halfway through, Northants would have missed out on a quarter-final spot.
Birmingham Bears, Derbyshire Falcons and Leicestershire Foxes all won on Friday night to book their place in the last eight, alongside North Group winners Nottinghamshire Outlaws.
The Steelbacks had been in the top three when they faced Leicestershire last Friday, but a big defeat in that game and at Yorkshire Vikings on Thursday night cost them.
They also struggled in the final match as Durham racked up a massive 208 for three before the rain came.
And Ripley, who led his team to T20 glory last season, said: "It's very sad.
"We set up a good position with three games to go, even though we maybe hadn't played our absolute best cricket.
"We looked well set to qualify and we've played poorly.
"We haven't recreated the form we've shown in recent years and after 14 games, if you're not in the top four you haven't made it.
"It's a little bit disappointing.
"We needed to win one of the two games this week and maybe it would have been a slightly different ending.
"We didn't play well against Leicestershire, we didn't play well against Yorkshire and we hadn't played particularly well in the first half of this game."