Adelaide coach Don Pyke has been left searching for answers after the Crows' disappointing AFL campaign ended in a whimper with a 34-point loss to the Western Bulldogs in Ballarat.
Adelaide's faint finals hopes were effectively snuffed out by Hawthorn's upset win over West Coast before Sunday's clash but the 18.13 (121) to 13.9 (87) loss showed what an injustice it would have been had they somehow fallen into September.
It was a largely dispirited, patchy display punctuated by treacle-slow ball movement and skill errors typical of their play throughout the back half of a season which has featured just two wins from nine games.
"We just got into a bit of a funk to honest," Pyke said of his team's slide to a 10-12 record.
"We got to the bye in reasonable shape, sitting at 8-5 with a lot to play for, then never really got going in the second half of the season.
"So we need to go away, lick our wounds and have a real look at what's transpired, what we need to change and fix.
"We've got some great people at the footy club ... but we've clearly underperformed against our own expectations.
"We now need to own that and work out exactly what we need to do to get ourselves back to playing the way that we're capable of."
Pyke, who has two years left on his contract, still believes he is the right man to lead the club back to the finals but understands scrutiny will come his way.
The match was Richard Douglas' last for the club, with Andy Otten also bowing out.
Pyke doesn't believe there will be any more retirements, leaving the list management team to go to work on one of the oldest squads in the league.
"We've got some (young) talent on our list but it's now about getting the right blend and balance around our senior players," Pyke said.
"How we evolve from here, there will be some good discussions around what that looks like.
"Just in terms of what our team looks like in round one next year, how we're going to play and how we're going to train that.
"The reality is that we've finished earlier than we wanted to but ultimately you finish where you finish for a reason.
"We've got some work to do."
Australian Associated Press