Thirty minutes of frustration are going to drive the Eastlake Demons for years to come.
That's how close they were to a drought-breaking premiership, with Demons coach Peter McGrath adamant "the blueprint is there" as Eastlake return to the well and start all over again.
Eastlake suffered a heartbreaking 11.14 (80) to 6.10 (46) defeat against the Ainslie Tricolours in the AFL Canberra grand final at Manuka Oval on Sunday.
"It’s heartbreaking and you can’t really sugarcoat it. It’s disappointing, all those words come into it," McGrath said.
"For us, it builds resilience in our group, it’s a young group. The reality is we’ve just got to come back stronger next year and use it as motivation.
"They’re the sorts of things that are going to get you up to run in pre-season and be on time to training. That frustration of the last half an hour is what drives you for the next couple of years."
The Tricolours blew Eastlake away in the opening quarter, scoring five majors with a measly four behinds all the Demons could muster in reply.
But McGrath implored his squad to "take the game on" and they eventually stripped the lead back to 14 heading into the final term.
But that was as close as Eastlake could get as the Tricolours' all-star forward line found its rhythm to secure a three-peat for Ainslie and end the careers of Dan Ryall and Justin Mesman in heartbreaking fashion.
While Eastlake's 17-year premiership drought will continue for another year, this season has been nothing short of a success considering where they were a few short years ago after exiting the NEAFL.
"The club has certainly turned itself around. It was only three years ago we were getting belted by 80 points, so to be in this position, it’s a great thing for the footy club," McGrath said.
"But it relies on consistency and ensuring next year we can build on what we have done over the past couple of years. We’ll get our style of footy downpat and make sure we continue to build on our fitness and consistency in games."
Ainslie coach Chris Rourke says the Tricolours' stunning day out that bore premierships in all three men's grand finals is a testament to everyone involved at the club.
While Ainslie will lose a handful of stars including the likes of Aaron Wiles and Nick Paine next season, Rourke is confident Sunday's showing across three grades suggests the club will be well equipped to bounce back.
"It does not get old. It takes a lot out of an old bloke these days but it is certainly worth it for the amount of time and everything you put in," Rourke said.
"The club is going so well at the moment, and all of these ex-NEAFL clubs did it pretty hard. Really proud of the club today. The club is going is a good direction.
"No doubt we will lose a few and you saw our Rising Stars and our young reserves teams, hopefully they will step up and build their own legacy."
Who knows, Ainslie might even be able to match the remarkable feat achieved by the Sydney Swans from 2005-08 in winning four on the trot.
AT A GLANCE
Men’s first grade -
AINSLIE 5.2 6.5 8.12 11.14 (80)
EASTLAKE 0.4 3.5 4.8 6.10 (46)
GOALS: Ainslie: N. Salter 4, H. Armstrong 3, B. Jamieson 2, H. Delves, N. Paine. Eastlake: NA.
BEST: Ainslie: D. Ledda, N. Salter, H. Armstrong, S. Sienkiewicz, C. Bernasconi, B. Jamieson. Eastlake: NA.
Second grade -
QUEANBEYAN 1.0 4.0 4.2 4.5 (29)
AINSLIE 5.2 5.3 9.3 10.4 (64)
Rising Stars -
QUEANBEYAN 2.4 4.8 6.9 7.10 (52)
AINSLIE 2.2 4.2 5.5 8.7 (55)