FIVE finals losses from six games for Brisbane in the past three seasons does not make for good reading, but it's far from the disaster being depicted in some corners.

In a period where they have won as many home and away games as any other team – Geelong has also won 45 from 61 in that period – the Lions have come up a whisker short in the finals.

Saturday night's heartbreaking one-point defeat to the Western Bulldogs is the latest missed opportunity.

Leading by 18 points late in the third quarter in front of 36,000-plus roaring home fans, Brisbane couldn't get over the line.

A 50-50 call here, a shave of the goalpost there or even a lucky bounce into Charlie Cameron's hands in the final 40 seconds could have resulted in a difference outcome.

But ultimately the Lions were edged by a team that had been in the top two for 90 per cent of the season.

Ultimately, Brisbane wasn't good enough.

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The facts are there for us all to see, but to bundle them up into a "one win from six finals, this is a complete failure" argument, without any context, is unfair.

In 2019 the Lions surprised the entire competition by rocketing from five wins the previous year to 16 and earning a double chance.

They were taught a lesson in efficiency in the qualifying final against Richmond, losing by 47 points despite having more scoring shots, and then were pipped at the post by Greater Western Sydney seven days later, denied by a brilliant checkside goal on the run from Brent Daniels.

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In 2020, they again finished second, and this time it was a little less surprising. The Lions were fortunate to play more games in their home state than most opponents, and sleep more nights in their own beds, but they earned two home finals no matter which way you cut it.

The first of those was a rousing victory over Richmond, and the second a poor preliminary final showing against Geelong. Another step forward that year, but clearly not good enough to be in the final two.

That brings us to 2021. It's quicker to read AFL.com.au's season review than explain everything here, but the year was far from a failure simply because the Lions went out in 'straight sets' again.

For the first time under Chris Fagan they dealt with serious injuries to key players (Cam Rayner, Eric Hipwood, Darcy Gardiner, Lachie Neale and Dan McStay), overcame a slow start (1-3) and eventually squeaked into the top four.

The straight sets argument is lazy.

If – there's that word – Linc McCarthy's snap goes wide in the dying seconds of round 23 against West Coast and Brisbane finishes fifth, are the Lions then a superior team for beating Essendon in an elimination final and losing the next week?

You know, just to improve that finals record to 2-4, rather than 1-5? Of course not, because the semi-final exit would mean the same.

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The loss to Melbourne in the qualifying final was poor, and exposed some deficiencies that need to be addressed, while as discussed earlier, the Bulldogs' loss was a coin toss.

What can be said is that Brisbane hasn't made the most of its chances over a strong three-year run. One preliminary final and two semi-finals is great experience, but another prelim or obviously a Grand Final in there would have felt achievable given their consistent excellence.

Not only is the Lions' premiership window still open, it's barely moved enough to let the outside breeze in yet.

There's tiny gaps on Brisbane's list – mainly with its depth – but nothing glaring.

Behind the starting midfield of Neale, Jarryd Lyons and captain Dayne Zorko is a bevy of talent that should continue to improve.

Cam Rayner is already super fit and will be back from his ruptured ACL in 2022, Zac Bailey is no longer an emerging star but a proven force who can spend more time on-ball, while Deven Robertson might just be the defensive midfielder the Lions crave after being torn apart by Clayton Oliver and Jack Macrae in the past fortnight.

Hugh McCluggage also showed he could have a match-defining impact when he spent more time around the contest in Neale's injury-induced absence.

Brisbane's Hugh McCluggage celebrates a goal against the Western Bulldogs in the 2021 semi-final. Picture: Getty Images

The forward line is potent. When Joe Daniher, Dan McStay and Eric Hipwood all played in the same team, they won 10 matches from 11, including spanking Geelong and Port Adelaide.

Most of Brisbane's upside comes from its players aged 24 and under, with Rayner, Bailey, Hipwood, McCluggage, Harris Andrews and Brandon Starcevich all critical.

Although there's no guarantee Brisbane will return to the top four in 2022 and beyond, they're as well placed as any team to contend for a long period of time.

As Fagan said following the Bulldogs match though: "I can't stop people from saying what they say … we've got to live with our reputation and the only thing we can do is try and get back there next year and put that to bed."