Fremantle coach Ross Lyon expects his side to be haunted for some time by the wasteful start that played such a major part in turning their first trip to the AFL grand final into a losing one.
As they have done all year in what has been clearly the best of their 19 seasons, the Dockers did plenty right on Saturday - and were hardly disgraced in going down by 15 points to Hawthorn.
But their inability to put any early scoreboard pressure on the Hawks - as evidenced by a miserly halftime tally of 1.6 (12) - meant their stirring third-quarter comeback eventually came to nought.
Nat Fyfe was one of Fremantle’s best players, but he will long rue putting two set shots for goal out of bounds on the full in the opening quarter.
Goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne also had an off day in front of the big sticks.
And there were others.
“The start will haunt us for a while and the missed opportunities will hurt us,” said Lyon.
“But it’s a great lesson for our club that it’s about the basics under pressure.
“It’s dropped marks, missed targets, missed tackles, missed shots that at the end of the day separate quality.
Veteran Brian Lake, a 31-year-old former Western Bulldogs' All-Australian defender in his first season with the Hawks, took three vital marks in the final term for a total of 10 and was awarded the Norm Smith Medal for best-afield after gathering 22 possessions.
Master coach Lyon was well aware of the dangers of allowing NLake to run loose and pick off intercept marks and he had plans in place.
"I know how it happened," Lyon said.
"We had a structure in place that should have been adhered to and it wasn't and we paid the penalty.
"Those guys know who they are. We've spoken about that already.
"But there's no witch hunt. What's the point?
"It's about the discipline under pressure to do what we want."
Skipper Matthew Pavlich also missed a clutch set shot in the second term, although he still ended the day as the Dockers’ leading goalscorer with three.
“We certainly wasted some opportunities not only straight in front of goal but probably execution going into our forward line and the forward structure certainly wasn’t where it should have been and it made life challenging at times,” Pavlich said.
“But it certainly felt as though we fought back strongly after halftime and wrested a lot of momentum and definitely had some opportunities as the game wore on to really capitalise.
“But we fell short and we lick our wounds.“It’s a really bitter pill to swallow with all the hard work and sacrifice and effort it takes just to get to this point.
“The reality is we weren’t good enough.”
Pavlich and key defender Luke McPharlin will both be 32 by the start of next season and ruckman Aaron Sandilands will be 31, but Lyon expects them all to play on as part of a group that should only get better.
For Lyon it was a third narrow grand final loss in the space of five years - having come up just short with St Kilda in 2009 and 2010.
“You don’t feel them as a collective - or I certainly don’t anyway,” he said.
“.. personally I’m disappointed, but I’m more disappointed for the club and the players.
“I understand how hard it is to get back.
“Our whole attitude is take the risks, do the work and keep turning up and keep improving.
“I read Malcolm Blight lost his first three (as a coach with Geelong) and went on to win back-to-back (with Adelaide).
“He had the fortitude to keep working and keep backing himself in.
“I’m certainly not going to crumble.”