Vanquished Geelong coach Chris Scott has warned that the Cats will slide quickly if they overrate the list that fell just one goal short of a grand final berth, and predicted that the phasing out of senior players will accelerate.
In the aftermath of Geelong's preliminary final loss to Hawthorn, which halted a remarkable era of dominance over the Hawks, Scott refused to discuss the future of individual players but vowed that the Cats would continue to make pragmatic decisions about their older players.
The Cats have a strong record at regenerating the list, having managed the retirement of premiership heroes such as Cameron Ling and Brad Ottens in recent seasons while remaining in flag contention.
''We work together with our senior players and make sure we commit to making decisions that are best for the club first and individuals second,'' Scott said on SEN. ''We're not in a position to comment at length about what the composition of our list is going to be next year.
''The other thing we have to be a bit wary of is overrating our list and saying that we made a prelim final and we've got some young players coming through so everything is going to be better next year. That's a really dangerous approach to take.
''We saw six or seven sides finish outside the eight that are going to be extremely competitive next year so if we don't improve and our young players don't show the sort of commitment our senior players have shown, we will slip very quickly. ''With our senior players I think everyone is acutely aware of our desire to gradually transition our list over the last couple of years and that will accelerate over the next year or two probably, but out of respect to the guys we haven't spoken to at length about these things, I don't really want to comment more than that.''
Of the veterans, the club is yet to make a call on Paul Chapman, who missed the preliminary final because of suspension and has indicated he wants to play on somewhere next season.
Scott said champion midfielder Joel Corey had not told him whether he is contemplating retirement. Defender Josh Hunt, who was subbed out on Friday night, is nearing the end, and previously outlined a philosophical attitude to his football mortality despite closing in on 200 games. ''If I finish this year and I'm on 190-odd games, and the footy club says the time's right to let you go, that's the way it is,'' he told Fairfax Media in June.
Scott was buoyed by the progress of young defender Cameron Guthrie and inside midfielder Josh Caddy, who had an immediate impact when subbed into Friday night's game.
It was too soon, the 2011 premiership coach said, to reflect on whether the season had been a success or a failure.
''We had a chance to win the game and perhaps go on and perhaps win a premiership so it depends if you're an optimist or a pessimist.''
Geelong skipper Joel Selwood spoke to reporters immediately after the epic clash with his emotions still raw from the narrow five-point loss.
''The boys, what can I say, we played our hearts out and we were exhausted by the end and good on them for playing out the four quarters, we just couldn't do it today,'' Selwood said.
''You are [shattered]. At the end of the day, I might sound like a bad loser in saying this but they've pinched it.
''We've pinched a few off them in the time and it's hard to take.''
With Jason Phelan