Exiting Melbourne Victory star Keisuke Honda says the A-League was "not so easy" as rival clubs put the clamps on him this season.
The Japanese international is hunting his next "great opportunity" as he seeks to keep his football career alive until the Tokyo Olympics next year.
Honda's A-League career was cut one game shorter than hoped last Sunday night as Victory's season was brutally ended by Sydney FC in a 6-1 defeat.
The 32-year-old has one match remaining for the Melbourne side; a dead rubber AFC Champions League tie against Sanfrecce Hiroshima next Wednesday night.
The match will conjure sad pictures of what might have been this season for both Victory and Honda.
Imagine, Kevin Muscat's men returning home from Perth Glory as A-League champions, enjoying a rapturous welcome from their home fans.
Or perhaps, if Victory's AFC Champions League campaign was still alive, the chance for Honda to send his side deeper into the tournament against a club from his homeland.
Neither will eventuate after a season of unrealised potential from both player and club.
Honda suffered a severe hamstring injury prior to Christmas, when Victory were on a six-game winning streak.
While the Japanese international recovered his form and finished a creditable fourth in the Johnny Warren Medal count, Victory would never carry the same momentum.
"We are disappointed about the results. And we are hurting, but that's the reality we need to accept," Honda said after the loss to Sydney FC.
"Sydney FC deserved to go to the grand final so I want to congratulate Sydney FC."
The thoughtful midfielder said he had no issues with how he was utilised by coach Kevin Muscat throughout the season, largely deployed on one side of a midfield diamond.
"Football is like this. All teams and players were getting an understanding about me, little by little," he said.
"And the managers as well. So they have learned how to stop me. I haven't had space and time every game.
"I felt the A-League is not so easy.
"I want to see (Muscat) in a positive way. He did a great job as well.
"If we (want to) say negative things, we can find anything, right?
"I played some great games and I played some bad games. Both are a really great experience for me. And I will change from next season as well again, for Olympics 2020."
Honda had previously expressed his intention to leave Victory after one season in a deal made possible by FFA investment from the marquee fund.
He doesn't know where he will land next.
"I've been thinking. I'm looking for a great opportunity to play for next season. But so far, I don't have any options. So we will see."