Having won a premiership in his first season in the NRL, the taste of failure was hard for Daly Cherry-Evans to swallow in his second after Manly's horror show against Melbourne on Friday.
The young halfback was one of several Sea Eagles players to endure a nightmare at AAMI Park as his side surrendered their title, going down 40-12 to a rampant Storm side at AAMI Park, in a game that saw the premiers make 16 errors and 34 missed tackles.
It ended a dramatic 12 months for the club, who lost coach Des Hasler in acrimonious circumstances, and had to put up with speculation he would take several of his former players with him to his new club Canterbury.
Many expected the Sea Eagles to unravel under rookie coach Geoff Toovey, but a top-four finish and preliminary final was more than a respectable outcome for a club that was plunged into turmoil less than a year ago.
But Cherry-Evans says the high standards expected by the players and staff means 2012 should not be looked upon too favourably.
"We didn't really put up a fight and that is the worst thing about it," he said after the loss to Melbourne.
"The harder we tried the worse it got for us, it was just one of those nights.
"Individually none of us can hold our heads high. Some people can look at this season as a positive, but personally I think we didn't fulfil our potential as a team.
"And that makes it a bad year."
Co-captain Jamie Lyon was a lone exception in the blame game, scoring two tries, but said he couldn't recall a worse performance since he arrived at the club in 2008.
"It would have to be in the top-three easily," Lyon told AAP.
"We just don't know what went wrong. We are all so disappointed, not because we lost, but because of how we lost.
"But we'll have a good break now and come back stronger next year."
How do you think Sam Burgess will go in union?Related story: (See story)