Combine Melbourne's barnstorming last quarter on Sunday with their stunning straight-sets AFLW finals exit, it's no wonder coach Mick Stinear calls it "confusing".
The Demons have been left gutted after the defending premiers' season of such promise ended with a five-point upset loss to Geelong in a pulsating semi-final on Sunday at Ikon Park.
Melbourne were the highest-scoring team this season, routinely thrashing opponents in the early rounds.
But after losing their last game before the finals to Brisbane, North Melbourne opened them up in a stunning qualifying final upset.
The Demons looked rattled in the first half against Geelong, before storming home with five goals to one in the last term to just fall short.
That final term showcased everything that was great about Melbourne. It was also too little, too late.
It is the first time Melbourne have lost three AFLW games in a row.
"It is a little confusing - we were just out of form at the wrong time of year," Stinear said.
"We don't feel like we've given ourselves the best chance to perform in finals.
"That's our reality, too.
"We don't want to sit still. It's not a nice feeling being left behind."
While Eden Zanker kicked three goals in the last term and Tyla Hanks did her best to drag Melbourne home, Stinear said it was something more intangible that mainly sparked their final-quarter fightback.
"The group believed they could win from there, absolutely - belief just probably kicked in," he said.
"It's a bit of mixed emotion, because if we didn't play like that in the last quarter, then you have a finals series where you didn't feel like you gave yourself any chance.
"So that last quarter at least showed what this group is capable of and it's hopefully it's a sign of things to come.
"But for now, we're not where we want to be. We'll have to learn and evolve and get better."
Stinear confirmed there was some illness at Melbourne over the past couple of weeks, but also stressed it was no excuse.
They join Melbourne's AFL team in straight-sets exits from the finals.
Australian Associated Press
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