The circle of football life is always most evident among the evolving emotions in a losing team's change-room following a grand final loss.
And such was that life in Fremantle's inner-sanctum on Saturday night.
Firstly, deathly silence. Then, murmur and mumblings rise. And as bedraggled players are embraced by their closest family members and friends, laughter eventually emerges to mask some of the pain of the most bitter defeat of all.
As forward Michael Walters crouches down to share a banana with his toddler child, life is quickly moving on and next year's season is already a new goal.
But still, and particularly in the tear-stained face of shattered forward Chris Mayne, the reality of a lost dream remains.
The defeat is confirmed in possibly the strangest fashion by a man dressed in a full-sized Cookie Monster outfit and playing the Hawthorn theme song through his bagpipes outside the MCG after the match.
The winning Hawthorn rooms are, by contrast, immediately and consistently filled with the noise of jubilation. Even Western Bulldogs star Adam Cooney is moved to tears at the thought that his former teammate Brian Lake is now a premiership player and Norm Smith Medallist.
In the Fremantle rooms, coach Ross Lyon is surprisingly calm for a man who has just come through his fourth grand final without a flag and says he is feeling more for his players than himself.
Lyon immediately seeks out his wife and children and despite the distractions, is cognisant enough to stop an attempt by his daughter to put a medal around his neck. He politely accepted it by hand and stowed it in his bag.
Later at a Melbourne Convention Centre function bulging with 1400 Dockers fans, Lyon tempers their standing ovation and "Freo" chant by reminding them bluntly of the afternoon's defeat.
"There's certainly no closed-ended statements here," he said.
"I do want us to understand, though, I love the passion, but we didn't win today. We didn't grab greatness today when there was an opportunity for that.
"I want us to be aware of that fact. I love the passion, but there's another step to go here before we are truly a great club."
On the game's final siren, captain Matthew Pavlich had stood almost statuesque at his full-forward post. He appeared to be frozen in his disbelief and disappointment.
His long, emotion-charged embrace with his wife and daughter soon after in the rooms perfectly summed up the mixed feelings of his club's plight. He later took the opportunity to acknowledge Fremantle's vibrant support which had one hotel bouncer this week describing Melbourne as "one giant block of Cadbury chocolate", as a purple haze overtook the city.
The Dockers mob had stopped the city as they walked en masse to the MCG on game morning, epitomising a unity that has built from the top of the club's hierarchy.
Details emerge later on how Pavlich had demanded his leadership group refrain from any alcohol drinking for the final six weeks of the season. It is a creed Lyon is understood to have then also demanded of his coaching staff.
It is this type of action and the way the club's personnel have committed themselves to the same page after years of low achievement, which has finally won the respect of the football nation.
Before the opening bounce, retired Dockers utility Adam McPhee heads a motorcade of past stars and receives a deserving cheer from the club's fans all around the ground. Ironically, it was not long ago those cheers for him came Bronx-style.
West Coast pair Andrew Embley and Adam Selwood earn their share of jeering from those in purple, the latter blowing kisses back to them from the back of the car.
In the seconds before the first bounce, there is a good Dockers omen with strains of AC/DC's Hells Bells so loud it may almost have reached back to Fremantle's Fishing Boat Harbour where lead singer Bon Scott's statue stands.
But it was not to be.
With Fremantle players strewn across the ground after the match, Lyon singled out Alastair Clarkson through the mayhem and the Hawthorn coach responded with a well-meaning hug. It was reflective of how classy all of the Hawks were in their commiserations for the vanquished.
Long claiming to be the AFL's "family club", players such as Shaun Burgoyne, Sam Mitchell, Luke Hodge and Lake made bee-lines for their children to the delight of the brown and gold masses in the stands.
To the credit of supporters from both clubs, barely a seat in Australia's most famous sporting venue was emptied during the ensuing presentations.
Later in the blazing purple at the Convention Centre, Fremantle's hopes for the immediate future could be clearly seen in the faces of injured quartet Clancee Pearce, Jonathon Griffin, Garrick Ibbotson and Anthony Morabito, who had travelled home on Thursday from a six-week break in Europe to be at the game.
More immediately, one supporter openly pondered whether there was anything she could have done when she saw Lake when he had been shopping at Harbour Town in the Docklands on Thursday.
But more sage thoughts for Fremantle come from a man who has done more than most in the game, legendary coach Kevin Sheedy.
"I got beat by 13 goals in my first grand final," the ever-optimist said, referring to Essendon's 83-point loss to Hawthorn in the 1983 premiership decider.
"Then we beat Hawthorn twice in the next two grand finals. Fremantle are an exciting machine and just need to get over it as quick as they can."