Inverness needed just one win from their final two games to stay in third spot in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, where they have been since November. But, after losing a one-goal lead to Dundee United last week, Caley Thistle were beaten by Andre Hainault's 43rd-minute volley before St Johnstone's 2-0 win over Motherwell saw them slip to fourth.
However, Butcher and the Inverness fans remained buoyant after the final whistle following their highest league finish. Butcher said: "Fair play to Ross County, they scrapped and certainly worked hard for the result. But it wasn't about today. We have had a brilliant season. I don't think our club could possibly cope with Europe to be honest.
"When you lose four players, you need your big men and we didn't have that opportunity. But take nothing away from Ross County, they have been brilliant as well. A point separates the two teams. We wanted to finish above them, which we have done. Overall I said to the players, you have been absolutely brilliant."
The Caley Thistle fans, many of whom who turned up with beach balls in anticipation of a European adventure, widely celebrated news of an opening goal at McDiarmid Park before realising it was St Johnstone who had found the net.
"There was a long way to go in the game and I wasn't really concerned about that," Butcher said. "We knew ourselves that they (St Johnstone) had a good chance of doing it. It was down to us, it's been down to us over the last two games.
"The Dundee United game was the one where we had the best opportunity. I'm not disappointed. I'm disappointed to lose but I'm not disappointed in how the season has finished. We have been terrific all season after an indifferent start. We came good, had two or three really good runs, and in the end it's just a bit too far at the end of the season for us.
"But this season has been the best ever for me. The best ever."
Ross County manager Derek Adams, whose side's European hopes ended with defeat at Motherwell seven days earlier, took great satisfaction from their first win in six derbies this season.
"We dominated the match and were unfortunate not to have won by a greater margin," he said. "It's a nice way to finish the season. We wanted to win the Highland derby and we are delighted we have been able to do that."