Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley lamented his side's lack of dare and admitted little moments will haunt the Magpies as they come to terms with their Grand Final defeat.
Despite booting the first five goals, the Magpies couldn't hold off a fast-finishing West Coast as the Eagles steamed home to a five-point victory – 11.13 (79) to 11.8 (74) at the MCG on Saturday.
The Magpies led by 17 points at the quarter-time, 12 at half-time and scores were level at the final change before they led by a couple of goals in the last term.
However, they couldn't capitalise as they went into their shell, kicking long and allowing the Eagles' defenders to cut off their attacking raids at will.
"We stopped shifting the ball, we lost our dare, we lost our aggression to shift the ball and looked pretty good early," Buckley said.
"When that stopped, we started kicking long down the line.
"Players looked like they were happy to run forward and didn't want the pill as much, didn't want to shift the angles.
"We weren't quite as clean inside as we have been.
"To be specific, I think we got two goals up in the last quarter and we just had two or three opportunities to get the ball out of the next centre bounce.
"We just weren't clean and it went back the other way, and West Coast got a goal pretty quick.
"Those little moments will haunt the players, will haunt us.
"If you're cleaner inside, that gives you the capacity to shift the ball and to be a bit more daring with it.
"We did lose our dare and ultimately the aerial battle's really hurt us."
Buckley said the quiet day for Brownlow Medal runner-up Steele Sidebottom – kept to 14 disposals, his lowest total of the season – was a result of the Magpies' losing their attacking flair.
"Steele was probably a product of that stuff going up and down, it became a real contested game, a real slog," Buckley said.
"Without taking credit away from (Eagles tagger Mark) Hutchings, it's a bit easier to tag a bloke when the ball movement is predictable.
"Steele's a champion."
It was a sombre mood in the Magpies' rooms as they started to come to terms with coming up just short after a fantastic season.
"I'm pretty numb, and the boys are pretty numb," Buckley said.
"I'm enormously proud of our club, I'm proud of the players.
"There's a lot of boys in there that are hurting, as you'd expect."
Tall forward Mason Cox was huge in the second half, the big American taking three contested marks and kicking two goals after a quiet start.
"Coxy just plugged away," Buckley said.
"I thought (Tom) Barrass was able to bring the ball to ground quite often in situations where it looked like Coxy was going to mark it, but he kept going.
"He didn't lower his colours, he didn't give up, he continually tried to play his role."