The Hurricanes are not crying over spilled milk but they do concede they were not good enough in the second stanza of their extraordinary 44-29 semifinal reverse to the Lions in Johannesburg.
While coach Chris Boyd had doubts over the call by assistant referee Rasta Rasivhenge to say he had a clear grounding for the Lions' first try by prop Jacques Van Rooyen, when in fact there was sufficient doubt to check with the TMO, and disagreed that Beauden Barrett's yellow card, his fourth of the season, was warranted, he was not using that as an excuse for the fatigue, the errors, nor the loss.
"Our analyst thought their try before halftime was held up. I'd be surprised if the yellow card was a yellow card offence, but at the end of the day they made a good line break and that was costly for us," says Boyd, reflecting on the fact his changes have missed the final for the first time since 2014.
Captain Dane Coles, in his 100th outing, got through 65 minutes' work and had no qualms about the officiating.
"He was good, a couple of tough calls, but that's always going to be the case. It would have been nice if he had gone upstairs on one of those tries and Beauden was a bit hard done by, but Jaco (Peyper) is a bloody good ref," Coles says.
Boyd can reflect on a season where his side won a pass mark, but not with honours. He has already starting rebuilding for 2018, having signed Gareth Evans, Toby Smith and Ihaia West in recent weeks.
But he will first review this game, just the third defeat of a New Zealand team in 2017 by a franchise from the Republic.
"It is frustrating but we could have taken the referee out of the game. We created, with ease, a number of first half opportunities, and butchered three or four others," he says.
"That first half came pretty easily and I thought we got a bit loose, and if we had converted one or two of those opportunities we created in the first half, then the score at halftime could have been 35-3 and the game would have been done. But we breathed some life into them. They got momentum and we couldn't cope with it."
The Lions actually appeared to get fitter, stronger and faster as the game wore on, led by the likes of Kwagga Smith and Elton Jantjies. It was like watching the seconds before a train wreck. The high octane first half may have sucked too much energy out the Hurricanes, who have not problems with their conditioning.
"My gut feel is that we kicked too much ball away but our guys were done, they were tired. Whether it was the high veldt or the physicality the Lions brought, or a combination of both, we were unable to stem that momentum. We pretty much ran out of puff."
So does he feel the Crusaders can cope with the Lions on the high veldt in the decider?
"They (the Lions) opened up pretty easily in the first 20 minutes. I think the Crusaders can do that as well. (But) that Chiefs game was a physical battle. They had to get through a lot of work defensively and they might be out on their feet a bit. It will be a big challenge for them but the number of All Blacks in their forward pack will potentially stand them in good stead."