This was a chance for so many blue-and-white questions to be answered.
Chris Scott's coaching. Patrick Dangerfield's big-game performances. The decision to continually top-up and construct the oldest Grand Final team in history.
When the Cats surged to a 22-point lead late in the second quarter of Saturday night's AFL Grand Final, they looked set not only win their first flag since 2011 but also to answer so many jarring queries that have lingered over the club since their last triumph.
Instead, as they lick their wounds in the aftermath of what can only be described as a second-half capitulation against Richmond -- the Tigers' speed and ferocity at ground level overpowering the slower, more structured Geelong outfit -- the Cats will have so much to ponder.
Why did Chris Scott continue to play his trump card Patrick Dangerfield deep in the Geelong forward line for almost the entire third quarter, when Richmond roared back into the contest through insatiable pressure and midfield dominance?
Why were they unable to take advantage of their numerical superiority after important Richmond defender Nick Vlastuin was taken out of the game in the opening minutes?
Why was so little direct attention, again, paid to Dustin Martin?
As the No. 1 attacking team during the home-and-away season, why were they able to conjure only seven goals?
After such a strong first half, and boasting one of the best final-term records of 2020, how could they barely offer a yelp as Richmond booted 10 of the final 12 goals of the game?
And as one of the oldest teams ever to grace a VFL/AFL field -- the fifth oldest of all time, according to Champion Data -- have they gone too far down the recycling and mature-age path at the expense the draft?
Scott and his coaching team will no doubt attempt to dissect those questions, and many more, after such a painful, pitiful exit. And plenty of questions will be asked of Scott, whom many claim was gifted a premiership in his first year in 2011 due to inheriting a list built by those before him.
The biggest question is likely to be the use of Dangerfield in Saturday's decider, which could end up having huge ramifications for the legacies of player and coach alike. As Dustin Martin and the Tigers roared back into the contest in the third term, Scott continued to station his own dual threat superstar at full forward. Dangerfield could manage just one paltry possession as the game's momentum shifted towards Richmond -- a crack in the door the Tigers eventually kicked in. Game over.
It's far from doom and gloom, of course, especially when GWS Giants forward Jeremy Cameron dons the Cats' blue-and-white hoops and, assuming the world returns to normal post-COVID, they get to host games at their home ground fortress and bank win after win in it. They also boast three first-round draft picks thanks to the Tim Kelly trade with West Coast Eagles, although at least one will be required if and when the Giants look to force a trade for Cameron, who is a restricted free agent. Still, adding Cameron ensures the Cats should be strong contenders for at least the short-term.
But how long can they collectively continue to defy Father Time? Do they have enough elite talent coming through their ranks after ignoring the top-end of the draft for so long?
It's true that, like Scott said in a testy post-qualifying final press conference, most teams would love to be in their position of playing finals on an almost annual basis. There's certainly no shame in losing finals when you're playing against the premier teams in the competition, but careers and legacies are more often than not judged by premiership wins, nothing less.
While fans of struggling clubs will be jealous of Geelong's relative success in the past decade, Cats supporters may not be so pragmatic. Especially after a Grand Final defeat like this.