IT WAS difficult to believe it was only a round six loss. You would have been excused in the Swans' change-rooms late on Saturday night for thinking they had just suffered a season-ending finals defeat. All that was missing were tears and comforting relatives.
The loss brought to an end Sydney's five-game, unbeaten start to a season, its best in more than a decade, but a five-point loss to a team that is proving to be one of the toughest in the competition is hardly world-ending.
''Look it was just very disappointing,'' said Swans co-captain Jarrad McVeigh. ''It was a good start to the season and you want to keep that ball rolling and we wanted to make the SCG a fortress this year.
''You can't give up a big start at the start of the game. It was very disappointing to come out quite slowly after what happened last week [starting slowly against Hawthorn]. We have to come out and start well next week.
''I'm not too sure why it happened again. I don't think there is any reason. They were beating us in the contested side of the game and that's where it really starts for most teams and definitely does for us. If we're not in and under, we tend to be getting beaten throughout the whole ground.
''We picked it up in the second quarter and got ourselves back into the game and it was a pretty even contest from then on, but we just tended to play in spurts throughout the night, 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there.
''You can't do that against a quality team who have really improved. They have played super footy this year, they are the No. 1 contested ball team in the comp; there is no secret why they are playing well.
''We might have won our first five games, but we really haven't put four good quarters together, with maybe the Kangaroos game coming the closest. We've played a half here, a half there, three quarters here and there.''
Coach John Longmire was also disappointed in the way the team began the game, trailing by 24 points at the first break, and also when the game was there to be won at the start of the final term with the Swans up by seven.
''We didn't capitalise on our forward entries and didn't use the ball very well in that first quarter and the first 10 minutes of the last quarter,'' Longmire said. ''Ultimately we were seven points up and they came out and kicked the first four goals.''
McVeigh said the loss of Adam Goodes six minutes into the final term while he ''was on fire down there'' did not have a major impact on the players, and if he is missing on Saturday someone will come in to help the team.
''We have played some pretty good footy at times over the last couple of months, but I think the real test will be against Richmond and how we can come back from a loss like this one, against a team that beat us quite convincingly last time down there.''
The Tigers won by seven goals late last season and while Sydney had its greatest triumph at the MCG seven years ago, it has been a morgue of late with the team winning once - against Richmond in 2009 - in its past 14 matches at the home of football.