Carlton veteran Chris Judd concedes his side have a long way to go before they can challenge AFL powers like Sydney.
The 9th-finishing Blues were promoted to the finals at the expense of Essendon, part of the league's punishments for the Bombers' supplement program.
They were chock full of confidence after ending the regular season with a one-point away win over Port Adelaide and gathered even more momentum with another come-from-behind triumph over Richmond in week one of the finals.
But on Saturday night it unravelled in jarring fashion as Carlton never got close to the Swans, even though the hosts were a man down from the moment Tom Mitchell limped off late in the first term.
It was a far cry from the sort of fight Judd's old team West Coast showed in their classic grand finals against Sydney in 2005 and 2006.
"We've still got a lot of work to do before we can match it with those serious top-four sides," dual Brownlow medallist Judd admitted.
"It's not just one thing (that needs to be fixed), it is a whole lot of things.
"We need to improve in a lot of areas and I am confident the boys will be able to do that over summer."
Judd added it was not a "hopeless case" for the proud club whose resurgence has amounted to little more than being a bit-part player in finals.
"There has been some positives out of the season," he said.
"I think our back line has really stiffened up as a group and taken that line close to being at an exceptional level.
"Probably the other lines need to really step up and grow and hopefully we can bridge that gap between us and the better sides."