Melbourne didn't grasp their opportunity to keep their finals bid going but coach Paul Roos believes his side wasn't ready for September action in any case.
The Demons put in a strangely flat performance in their 20-point loss to Carlton, but Roos says disappointment at the result should be tempered by the reality his young team isn't of finals calibre yet.
"It probably gives you an indication of how far we've come but still how far we've got to improve as a group to get into the eight and be a good finals team," Roos said.
"I think we've come so far but to get to be a top eight team you've got to be more consistent game to game, more consistent in your preparation ... all those sorts of things add up."
The coach believes the Demons will bridge that gap with one more strong season.
Roos doesn't believe talk of making the finals affected his players, but said to even be a part of the conversation was an important stepping stone in the team's development.
"It's good that you're getting towards the finals, and the disappointment that comes from getting so close," he said.
"That's something most teams have to go through. That's a good part of it, rather than being four games out with two games to go.
"How you cope with that loss is all part of the growing because you very rarely jump from being a seven-win team last year to into the eight.
"So I'm rapt for the team and the club that people were talking about finals this week ... it's exciting to be a part of it."