Melbourne Vixens coach Simone McKinnis views her side's 2018 Super Netball season as an opportunity lost after they failed to qualify for the semi-finals.
After an inconsistent start to the 2018 campaign, last season's minor premiers reeled off five wins in a row after the mid-season bye to emerge as one of the main challengers to the top-ranked West Coast Fever.
But consecutive losses to the Giants and Fever resulted in the Vixens falling out of the top four and needing to defeat the Sunshine Coast Lightning in the final round to have any chance of reaching the play-offs.
The Vixens made a strong start at Hisense Arena on Sunday but the Lightning took control in the middle quarters to run out 56-51 winners.
"There was some great spirit for the game today but I think we have to look at the season as a whole and opportunities that we didn't take or when we didn't have that spirit," McKinnis said.
"Whether it be last week against the Fever or the week before against the Giants, if we had've shown that spirit and that fight, we'd be in a different position.
"I think that's the thing we have got to look at across the year - we've just got to be better."
The Vixens added experienced shooter Kim Commane to the squad during the week after losing Malawian import Mwai Kumwenda to a season-ending knee injury.
Commane performed well with 31 goals from 33 attempts but it wasn't enough to keep the Vixens' season alive.
Sunshine Coast started the match six points ahead of the Vixens despite an inferior win-loss record having accrued eight more bonus points for quarters won during the season.
The Lightning locked in a play-off berth after outscoring the Vixens by seven goals in the second quarter then winning the third stanza.
"I know everyone bangs on about the (bonus) points but the fact is if we had've won games earlier on that we should have been winning, the points are irrelevant," McKinnis said.
"If we had've won against the Giants and we had've won against the Fever, then that's not in the equation."