As learning experiences go, Cavan's 15-point defeat to Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final was the equivalent of being brought to the front of the class and told point-by-point why your work wasn't up to the honours class standard.
Still, Thomas Galligan manages to see some positives.
"I suppose it just lets you know where you're at with your development as a team," says Galligan, the PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month for November.
"Last year we got to an Ulster final, and we were well beat and this year we came back and won the Ulster final. We see that as progression.
"Then you got another step forward to play Dublin and you realise there's another step to go before you get to the top of the table with the big boys."
Galligan, a physiotherapy student at Ulster University Jordanstown, believes the gap between Dublin and other teams is not about physical power.
"Everyone at an inter-county level is in and around the same sort of physical build," he says.
"They’re probably just so good that they don’t have to expend as much energy. They probably play a lot of the game with the ball, and it’s a lot easier to play with the ball than without it. So that means that they’re probably able to do more explosive plays.
"As teams go they’re up at the top in terms of their physicality side of it, but they’re not miles ahead of every other inter-county team. I wouldn't put them out as being extremely physical.
5 December 2020; Brian Fenton of Dublin gathers possession ahead of team-mate David Byrne and Thomas Galligan of Cavan during the All-Ireland Football Championship semi-final at Croke Park. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
"Physically - not football-wise - you’re not that far away. At the end of the day we’re all only human. You can’t get to a different level.
"It’d be more skills that we’d try to get to, and they play with an intensity and smarts that I think needs more bridging the gap than their physical prowess. I think it’s more their skill, intensity, and brains that puts them outside or above the rest.
"They've nailed the basic skills whereas some lads will take shots from the corner-flag. They don't do that, they take shots from the scoring zone.
"It's hard to play against because they're just so efficient in what they do. They don't turn over the ball, and they play with such intensity in pressing around the middle.
"We struggled to get the ball kicked in because the lads around the middle were under so much pressure on the ball and they had to run it more. They're just a different animal to what we played this year."
The Lacken man switched between the full-forward line and midfield during the game, coming up against Brian Fenton when he ventured out the pitch.
"He's obviously the best midfielder that's around at the minute," Galligan says.
"I didn't see any of the boys play back in the day, but he's as good as there's been in the last 10/15 years.
"He does everything you need from a footballer. You'd look at him and want to try to get to his level. He's probably the best footballer in the country at the minute."
Cavan's approach for the semi-final was about playing to their own strengths. That was partially down to a lack of perceived weaknesses in the Dublin team.
This weekend, Galligan thinks we will see Mayo be competitive against Dublin if they can play with the same intensity which they showed against Galway and Tipperary.
"We didn't find any weaknesses the other day anyway so I'm probably the wrong lad to ask about weaknesses," he says.
"Mayo have showed a different level of intensity this year than from years gone by.
"I think everyone was waiting for Mayo to mess up this year but it hasn't even looked like they were going to mess up since the start of the Championship.
"If Mayo turn up with the intensity they've been playing with all year, it should lead to a good enough game."
Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile