Jack Viney hopes Melbourne can learn and build on the lessons from their AFL preliminary final thumping by West Coast but the shattered co-captain knows there are no guarantees the Demons will get another chance.
On face value, it's a Melbourne team that has had a taste of finals football, with wins over Geelong and Hawthorn before their defeat on Saturday, and that should point to future success.
The Demons have Jesse Hogan and Jake Lever to go into the team, too, so there's every chance this finals series is the start of something special.
But speaking after the 66-point loss at Optus Stadium, Viney knows it was a missed opportunity and there's no certainty they will get another shot.
"It's still shattering and these opportunities don't come around very often at all. When you're in it, you have to make the most of it and I think we really had a shot at it," Viney said.
"To not get there after getting this close, you just don't know what's going to happen in the future and it's devastating to know that we've missed out on opportunity.
"I think we'll take a lot away from this finals series. It was a good ride but at the end of the day I still think this is a very disappointing end to the season. I felt like we were really in with a shot so it's a really disappointing end to it."
Melbourne was blown away in the first half by West Coast and the result was the Demons becoming the first team since 1927 not to score a goal in the first half of a final.
Even though they steadied in the second half only to be outscored by three points, it was cold comfort to Viney.
Despite that, he hopes they can build on those tough lessons.
"We'll go away, process it and hopefully come back bigger and better," Viney said.
"We're building on every season and it has been a big journey and a slow burn but the pleasing thing is we've tended to learn from our mistakes along the way.
"Every season has made us bigger and stronger and hopefully this is a catalyst to make us even better next year. But we've missed an opportunity and you just don't know when you'll get it back again. It's going to take us a little while to wrap our heads around that."
Australian Associated Press