Nigel Pearson has admitted he thought his Leicester City side's promotion dream was over after their poor run of results left their play-off hopes in jeopardy.
The City boss said he had to remain positive for the sake of his players, but admits doubts did enter his head.
However, the manner in which they qualified for the play-offs has made Pearson even more determined to take the chance they thought they would not get.
City entertain Watford in the play-off semi-final first leg at King Power Stadium tonight and, although City will start as underdogs after losing twice to the Hornets this season, Pearson said there was a determination, almost desperation, to make the most of the unlikely opportunity.
"I think when we got to four or five games before the end of the season, the table was shaping up to an extent where every game felt like a must-win game," he said.
"Yet you look at the last five or six games and that has not been the case.
"When we got beaten at home by Watford it became mathematically a different equation, but while there is hope you have to stay as positive as you can.
"There is no doubting the fact that when you get to the point where it is no longer in your own hands that is always going to be a different scenario.
"But we are there now and we have to make the most of it.
"We are in the play-offs with the lowest points total, but we are in. We have had to go through a difficult run of form to get there but we are in there and now we have the same chance as the other three sides.
"We have to try and do everything we can to take it.
"It is such an important period for all the teams in the play-offs but for us, because we left it late, it is a great opportunity."
Pearson doesn't believe the fact Watford did the double over City this season will have any significance in the play-offs.
"We go into these games now and the perspective will be different because we go in there on the back of a positive result," he said.
"I am sure people will talk about how they were potentially going up automatically, but I don't think there will be a hangover.
"Because it is over two legs, it is a completely different scenario anyway.
"I learned from those games that they are a good team, that they have a style of play they stick to."