In sharp contrast, the home side came through a two-legged tie with Roda JC to stay in the hunt for a return to the top flight.
Heading into May, Heracles looked relatively safe from any kind of a relegation battle as they sat eight points clear of 16th place with three games remaining.
However, the unthinkable somehow happened, Heracles, who then sat in 12th spot, suffering three defeats in a row and 17th-placed Sparta Rotterdam winning each of their fixtures over the same period.
Coincidentally, the pair were left to slug it out on the final day of the season, Sparta establishing a 3-0 lead with 11 minutes left before their opponents netted a late consolation.
Frank Wormuth now has a major job on his hands to lift his players, who collected just eight points from their closing 10 fixtures in the top flight.
Furthermore, each of their recent defeats came against teams occupying positions in the bottom half of the standings, conceding seven goals in the process.
Opponents Excelsior head into this contest on a considerable high after outlasting Roda, who finished one place above them in the second tier, in extra time of their opening playoff tie.
Remarkably, the Kralingers clung onto a top-six spot despite having collected just four points from their final six games in the regular season.
In total, Excelsior had gone seven matches without success before overcoming Roda on Saturday, and Marinus Dijkhuizen's squad will relish their underdog tag heading into this fixture.
Whoever progresses from this two-legged tie will square off against either FC Eindhoven or ADO Den Haag in the final.
While Dijkhuizen will likely show preference to naming the same team which started against Roda, he will naturally consider introducing fresh legs after Saturday's contest went to extra time.
Much could depend on whether Dijkhuizen opts to change formation for a fixture against a top-tier club.
Wormuth is likely to make more changes to his Heracles starting lineup with Justin Hoogma expected to make a return in defence.
SBV Excelsior possible starting lineup:
Van Gassel; Horemans, Nieuwpoort, El Yaakoubi, Tjoe-A-On; Azarkan, Wieffer, Eijgenraam, Goudmijn; Niemeijer, Dalinga
Heracles possible starting lineup:
Bucker; Fadiga, Hoogma, Knoester, Quagliata; Torre, Quahim, Schoofs; Basacikoglu, Bakis, Hansson
We say: SBV Excelsior 1-2 Heracles
While the home side will no doubt be full of confidence, we cannot ignore the fact that they have not exactly found it easy posting wins of late. With that in mind, Heracles' superior quality should prove key, and they would be more than satisfied if they establish a narrow lead before the second leg.