Brentford boss Mark Warburton paid tribute to his side's "incredible character" after banishing the memory of last season's Play-Off misery to clinch promotion to the Sky Bet Championship.
Alan Judge's penalty just before the half hour was enough to seal the Bees' return to the second flight for the first time in 21 years.
Brentford's Wembley defeat to Yeovil and their last-day disaster against Doncaster simply made them a stronger unit, according to Warburton.
"When you look around at the teams who were at Wembley last season, many of them are struggling. We have just got stronger. They really are an outstanding bunch of players," he said.
"We have young lads of 19 and 20 in the side and they have 115 starts under their belts. Tony Craig, our veteran, is only 28, so it's a testament to their incredible character that they have achieved what they've achieved today."
And Warburton believes his side is better equipped for life in the Championship this year than they were when Marcello Trotta's penalty miss cost them so dearly last term.
"We have a better balance now, but we are only two years into a five-year plan. Winning promotion this early means we can set some things in progress to plan for next season," he said.
"We have a superb back-up team that would be the envy of many clubs higher up and we're moving to a new stadium. The long-term target is to fill a 25,000 seat stadium."
Brentford looked nerveless from the outset, playing a brand of passing football that won't look out of place at a higher level.
But Judge ensured any lingering memories of last season's nightmare were ended as he sent Declan Rudd the wrong way from the spot after Bailey Wright hauled George Saville down in the box.
Earlier Judge stung Rudd's fingertips after eight minutes and top-scorer Clayton Donaldson missed a string of chances to settle it before the end.
Donaldson was brought down in the second half, again by Wright, but Judge slipped as he took the spot-kick at the same end as last season's finale.
Donaldson also saw a powerful drive cannon against the upright and to safety off the back of Rudd's head as Brentford pressed for the killer second goal.
Marcello Trotta, last season's penalty villain, saw an effort blocked on the line with North End's only worthwhile effort a low angled drive from Craig Davies.
Preston boss Simon Grayson accused his players of turning up and expecting to get a result as they were forced to settle for a play-off spot with Brentford's promotion.
But he accused Chelsea loanee George Saville of diving for the first half penalty that settled the match.
"For me the first penalty was a dive and I'm not sure about the second one. There were a number of poor decisions, but congratulations to Brentford. They are a good side," he said.
"From our perspective we can't just expect to turn up and knock the ball around to get a result, especially against the calibre of team like Brentford who were going for promotion.
"You just won't get a result with that attitude and it's something we need to look at over the next few games."
Brentford refused their fans a lap of honour with Warburton insisting: "We have three more games to go and owe it to the rest of the sides in the division to approach them in the right way. We will have our party on May 3."