Championships aren't won overnight and the Canberra Capitals have been issued a stark reminder as to where they sit in the WNBL pecking order.
The Capitals couldn't pull off a dream upset and came crashing back to earth in a 99-66 thumping at the hands of the Townsville Fire at the National Convention Centre on Thursday night.
Capitals coach Paul Goriss remains steadfast in his belief his developing side is growing with every match — though he knows the club must prepare for the long haul.
A Suzy Batkovic (21 points, seven rebounds) masterclass clinched a finals berth for the Fire and snapped Canberra's three-game winning streak.
Fans got a glimpse into the future late in the match when Goriss sent his crop of youngsters in to fight the Fire, with development player Callie Bourne earning her first minutes of the season.
"They work just as hard as anybody else in our group," Goriss said.
"They deserve the opportunity at least to get out there and show what they can do. Everyone comes along and practises so it was nice to get Callie Bourne out there and the younger girls out there playing together."
The Fire have built a reputation as a club that recruits to win championships and they boast the budget to do so, with their bid for a third title in four years gathering steam.
The Capitals have had to turn their focus to development as they look to snap a six-year finals drought, with six of Canberra's 12 squad members still aged 21 or younger.
Eziyoda Magbegor and Maddison Rocci have both proven why they have been dubbed Opals-in-waiting, while Keely Froling and Abbey Wehrung have grown with added responsibility.
Promising centre Lauren Scherf is the only Canberra player contracted for next season but a host of players are keen to stay with the rebuilding club.
Veteran Mistie Bass led the Capitals in scoring with 18 points but Darcee Garbin scored 23 for the visitors as Townsville snapped a Capitals winning streak for the second time this season.
Capitals captain Nat Hurst overcame a middle ear infection to play and Canberra trailed by just two points at the first break.
But victory slowly crept away from Canberra as the Fire dominated the rest of the contest at both ends of the floor, handing Canberra its second loss by 30 points or more this season.
Townsville's bench added over 50 points to prove why they are one of the league's most dominant outfits, and Goriss offered one frank positive after the final whistle.
"The game is over," Goriss said.
"If you look at our first and third quarters we were right there with them. Eventually their depth wears you down and they pile on points quickly. If you don't make your shot they're running in transition.
"We weathered the storm really well in the first and third quarter but the cyclone was going to come and we had to batten down. We didn't batten down defensively.
"I still think we can take some positives from the first and the third given the age and experience of our group."
The Capitals now turn their attention to a clash with the Dandenong Rangers at Dandenong Stadium on Saturday night.
TOWNSVILLE FIRE 99 (Darcee Garbin 23, Suzy Batkovic 21, Micaela Cocks 18) bt CANBERRA CAPITALS 66 (Mistie Bass 18, Jordan Hooper 11, Maddison Rocci 9) at National Convention Centre.