Fremantle coach Ross Lyon says there's no guarantee his club can challenge the AFL heavyweights next season.
The Dockers' finals campaign ended with a 10-point loss to Adelaide on Friday night which left Lyon lamenting a missed opportunity.
Fremantle twice appeared in control and set for a preliminary final.
The Dockers led Adelaide by 29 points early in the second quarter of the AAMI Stadium semi-final, kicking six of the initial seven goals.
And after being reeled in by the Crows, Fremantle kicked the initial two goals of the last quarter to hold momentum and a seven-point advantage.
But the Crows booted the final four goals to win 12.9 (81) to 11.5 (71) and advance into next Saturday's preliminary final against Hawthorn.
"That is footy - if you don't play for four quarters you miss an opportunity," Lyon said.
"I thought Adelaide persisted until it turned their way.
"There were (warning) signs late in the second and the third quarter, and then we fought back in the fourth.
"But they just had a little bit more polish when required."
Lyon said there were no guarantees the Dockers would again be a finals contender next season.
"I think that is yet to be proven," he said.
"I have got a simple philosophy - review it, failure is feedback.
"We clearly need to improve and we have got plenty of work to do.
"There is no guarantee we'll be back here next year, I think that's the over-riding message, we all start equal next year.
"History is a guide, but it's not a precursor to anything.
"We really need to roll up our sleeves and do the work because if you don't do the work you're no chance."
While Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson believed Fremantle paid a price for consecutive six-day breaks between games, Lyon dismissed that theory.
"It's irrelevant, it's all garbage to be frank," Lyon said.
"We're not into excuses ... we wouldn't be talking about scheduling if we had of been a bit more organised and a bit more polished."