Pompey had their automatic promotion hopes dashed in the penultimate game of the regular campaign.
But the play-offs have provided a second chance of securing a spot in the Championship for next season.
A fine strike from Chris Maguire at the Stadium of Light means Sunderland currently hold a narrow advantage.
And Brett Pitman knows that the Blues cannot afford to feel sorry for themselves after missing out on the top two.
“It’s probably fair to say that you finish exactly where you deserve after 46 games and we were close to the top two, but couldn’t quite make it,” he says in the official matchday magazine for tonight’s game. “We were one win away in the end.
“It would have been nice to take it down to the final day, although it just wasn’t meant to be and we have to move on from that.
"It’s always a bit of a lottery – so hopefully we can win the lottery."
“I don’t think there’s any point in thinking about what might have been. You can always ask ‘what if?’, but nothing’s going to change now and so it’s a bit of a pointless exercise. You just have to get on with it.
“There are four teams in the play-offs and us, Sunderland, Charlton and Doncaster will all have gone into the opening games thinking that they’ve got as good a chance as anyone. It’s always a bit of a lottery – so hopefully we can win the lottery!”
To read the full interview – where Pitman also discusses his own form and Pompey’s attacking options – make sure to buy a copy of the magazine.
Also in issue 30, Andy Cannon is the final player to take the Brain of Pompey quiz, with Craig MacGillivray, Luke McGee and Brett Pitman currently topping the leaderboard.
Matt Clarke reveals his firsts and lasts, while fans can read exclusive columns from Mark Catlin, Kenny Jackett and Pitman.
There is also an in-depth analysis of Sunderland, a look at the history of the third tier play-offs and much, much more in a packed 84 pages.
You can pick up your copy for just £3 from programme sellers around the ground.