Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley says there’s no hiding from it.
“There is admission in the rooms, admission to not doing what we set out to do at the start of the year,” Hinkley said.
“So we mark it as a failure and a disappointing year.”
Port will miss the finals for the first time in Hinkley’s three-season tenure, despite smashing a depleted Fremantle by 69 points at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
But despite missing the playoffs, Hinkley found himself admiring, not admonishing, his players.
“They’re an outstanding group – 12 (wins) and 10 (losses) is not an acceptable season but I’m not going to sit here and pot my football team or my football club,” he said.
“They are amazing people, great characters … and they won’t give up on what they’re trying to achieve.
“We’re in pursuit of mastery. We want to master this game and we are going after that and we are not going to stop until we get there.”
Hinkley refused to discuss potential list management issues and, when pressed, tipped Hawthorn for the flag.
“It doesn’t matter to me too much,” he said of who wins the premiership.
“I will end up going around the four top sides and say ‘probably Hawthorn’ but I don’t know.
“It’s September footy, the best team in September, and that is the challenge … who has got the courage for four weeks of unbelievably tough football.
“I think Hawthorn have probably still got the weapons.”