The Force were so close but so far in their loss to the Lions tonight.
Here's what we learned from the clash.
1. Force fail to improve attack
The Force have struggled for attacking spark in 2017 and that was no different tonight.
They couldn't piece together any momentum which worried the Lions, though their shape did look better when Jono Lance and Peter Grant came on in the second half.
Four line breaks and 15 tackle busts just isn't going to get it done at Super Rugby level.
2. Meakes makes Wallabies case
Bill Meakes has been the best recruit in Perth this season and he continued to mount a strong case for national honours tonight.
In eight runs he racked up 66 metres, three tackle busts, two line breaks and an offload.
But it's his link play in attack and defensive work which is particularly eye catching.
3. Absent stars sorely missed
A Force team that featured Adam Coleman, Ben McCalman, Luke Morahan, Chance Peni and Dane Haylett-Petty would have beaten the Lions tonight.
The South Africans weren't anywhere near their glittering best and there were opportunities aplenty for the Force but they didn't have the players to make those opportunities count.
They will all come back in the near future but for the sake of the Force's season, they're needed right now.
4. Lions sub par in overseas opener
This wasn't the Lions we're used to seeing carve teams up in Johannesburg.
If there is such a thing as an unconvincing bonus point win, this was it.
They too struggled to string together fluid attacking phase play and will want to improve ahead of a clash with the Rebels in a week.
5. Conference title now a bridge too far for Force
Due to the lacklustre state of the Australian Conference, the Force still had finals football hopes this season.
A Brumbies win tomorrow will kill those hopes, as 12 points will be too much of a gap to make up for a team of the Force's standard in the back half of the year.