Pep Guardiola saw Manchester City secure third place in the Premier League and then vowed to close the gap to Chelsea and Tottenham next season.
A thumping 5-0 win at Watford, courtesy of two goals from Sergio Aguero and further strikes from Vincent Kompany, Fernandinho and Gabriel Jesus, ensured City's direct entry into next term's Champions League.
But City ended up 15 points adrift of champions Chelsea, as well as eight shy of Spurs in second.
And Guardiola - who had never previously finished outside of the top two while in charge of Barcelona and Bayern Munich - now has set his sights on reeling in the domestic rivals.
"This is now the seventh year in a row we are in Europe," he said. "Every year qualifying for the Champions League will be tougher and tougher, and we are there.
"Now, the gap in the Premier League is so big to Chelsea and Tottenham, and we are going to try to play better. Not work, but play better.
"We are going to reduce the gap to Chelsea and Tottenham. And in Europe we are happy to be directly in the draw."
City needed a point to be certain of finishing in the top four but any hint of final-day jeopardy evaporated when they saw Watford's team sheet.
Hornets manager Walter Mazzarri, having earlier in the week been told he would be out of a job after the game, appeared to have gone rogue with his final line-up.
Deprived of six centre-halves through injury, the Italian fielded two full-backs and midfielder Valon Behrami in the most makeshift of back-threes.
Yet even more bizarre was the sight of two goalkeepers named on the bench. However, having three goalkeepers on the field would probably not have saved Watford from a mauling.
Kompany was unmarked when he headed City into a fifth-minute lead, Aguero took his tally for the season to 20 in the league with a quickfire double, Fernandinho grabbed the fourth before half-time and Jesus hooked in number five after the break.
"It was in our hands, not depending on anything, and we knew Watford had troubles in defence," added Guardiola.
"But when you play for something on last weekend of the season it is complicated, there is always pressure, there is no second chance.
"We showed many good things and we are so happy."
It was not the send-off Mazzarri wanted. At one point when the Italian received a lecture from referee Jon Moss some home fans called for him to be sent to the stands.
The Hornets seemed to have clocked off from the moment they reached 40 points, promptly losing their last six matches of the season.
Mazzarri said: "I wish the fans were informed of what happened during the season. We gave everything and with such a difficult situation an inexperienced manager would have done worse.
"We were safe with six games left. It's another objective in my career.
"I'm not for appearances, I am for facts. Look at the stats. We reached the objective. That is all that counts.
"I'm expert enough to know you cannot have all 20,000 people on your side. But I know the majority understood what was going on."