“[Hawthorn] won a flag in 2008, and they actually didn’t make the finals the next year. The next year, they got knocked out the first week of the finals; the next year they got beaten in a prelim and the next year they got beaten in a grand final.
“And then they won three in a row. So it’s a process that you have to go through, unfortunately; I was hoping that we wouldn’t have to.
“But we met a team tonight that’s lost a lot of preliminary finals and they desperately wanted to get into a grand final, and they showed that in the way that they played tonight. I thought that was a brilliant performance by Geelong.
“I look at us and go, righto, last year we won 16 and lost eight, this year we won 15 and lost four, so we’ve improved our winning percentage, we got to a preliminary final, which we didn’t do last year. We had a terrific win over Richmond.
“We’ve made progress. We’re sad and hurting tonight, but you’ve got to be realistic about these things. Success doesn’t happen overnight, not usually. It’s rare. So we’ve just got to take our medicine and learn.”
Along with their greater desperation, it was the bigger, more experienced bodies of Geelong that carried them through.
“I just thought they were stronger in the contest than us,” Fagan said. “Particularly early in the game, I thought there could have been a little bit of a blowout in the first quarter, to be honest, they were really on top in contested ball and clearances.”
Fagan said he needed to review the game before thinking about what holes the club still needed to fill to take the next step, but the Lions have made no secret that they are targeting another key forward – and their target is keen to get to them.
“We obviously are pretty keen to get Joe Daniher to our club, we think he can help,” Fagan said. “We’re already in the business of improving for next year, we won’t let the grass grow under our feet.”