Danny Forrest believes Mark Bower can mould Guiseley into title winners next season after their latest play-off agony.
Bower has already begun his rebuilding plans as the Lions pick up the pieces from a fourth successive loss in the end-of-season showdown.
Altrincham clinched promotion to the Conference Premier with a 2-1 win in the Skrill North play-off final on Saturday – scoring the decisive goal in added time at the end of extra-time.
But Forrest, who had netted the equaliser before being forced off with a calf injury, is confident the momentum built up under Bower can carry on into the next campaign.
The former Bantams striker said: “It’s been unbelievable. We were a club down in the dumps and it took a long time to come back.
“But Mark’s got a great set of lads and he’s put that squad together. They are good not just on the pitch but in the dressing room and that does make a difference.
“We all like him and want to play for him. He’s a great man manager and treats everyone fairly.
“That’s valued and you get that extra five or ten per cent out of players, which has really helped us nick results in the last ten minutes.
“We’ll have to see what happens over the summer but I’d have thought we will be one of the favourites – and rightly so. We should be proud of where we’ve come from and now we want to take that on.”
Bower has already drawn up a list of targets and will get straight to work – with the aim of avoiding the same heartache.
The Guiseley boss said: “There’s not too much needs changing but obviously we will be looking to bring in a few new faces. It’s just natural progression.
“We’ve identified targets in the event of us going up or staying in the division. We’ve already started that job and will continue this week.
“You’ve got to use this as the motivation to be better next year. If we improve, we’ve got a chance of finishing on top of the pile.
“I don’t think there’s been a feeling like this in the play-offs before where we’ve been so close and it’s been snatched away.
“But we were third from bottom when we last came to Altrincham in October. To get this far is an achievement, even if it doesn’t feel like that now.”
Altrincham substitute Greg Wilkinson scored the winner with his first touch of the ball. To add to Guiseley’s agony, he had come on to take one of the penalties in the shoot-out that both teams expected.
Bower said: “It could have gone either way and we’re just devastated to be on the wrong end of that kind of finish. We just fancied the longer it went, that it was going to penalties.
“But they were two really good sides and it was a great advert for the level of football we are playing at. I’m just gutted for our players.
“Football being as it is, people will move on and others come in. But it’s been a special group this year and they’ve done themselves, me as manager and the club proud.”