We're learning more about ourselves in the back door: Dubs captain Colm Keys
Dublin are now in better shape approaching the All-Ireland quarter-finals than they were 12 months ago.
That was the firm consensus of captain David Henry and manager Pat Gilroy after Saturday's cruise past Louth, a victory that propels them into the last eight for the sixth successive year.
"We probably know a little bit more about ourselves," said Henry. "I think last year, possibly, we didn't learn that much in the Leinster championship whereas this year we have been through a few tough games and you learn from the defeats as well.
"From that point of view, we probably know a little bit more about ourselves and are probably in a better position than we were last year."
Gilroy concurred. "We are probably better prepared than we might have been had we won the provincial championship.
"I think we are a better team. I think we are playing more as a team than this time last year. We are not relying so much on certain individuals because the team effort is a bit better. But I still think we have a fair bit to go to really push on into the top level."
The more democratic spread of scores was another sign of that team ethic, with Bernard and Alan Brogan contributing just a point each from play (Bernard also converted two frees) as Eoghan O'Gara came good.
"I think that needed to happen," said Henry. "I think other teams are going to be aware of the main scoring threats of any team, so it was important other fellas stood up to the plate."
Gilroy didn't deviate from that party line. "The two biggest 'missers' were probably Alan and Bernard, which is very unusual as they are usually guys that can score. So, from that point of view, it was encouraging that we weren't relying on the two of them for scores today."
Louth captain Paddy Keenan was adamant that Louth's woes did not stem from the fallout of the Leinster final debacle.
"I don't think that was the losing of the game," argued Keenan. "We just never came out, never showed any fight in the first half. We did in the second half, in patches. I wouldn't blame the Meath game on how we lost today."
His manager, Peter Fitzpatrick, wasn't so sure the Leinster final didn't impact, but wasn't forwarding it as an excuse either.
"I'm using no excuses, we had two weeks to get ourselves prepared, whether it was the occasion that got to us, I'm not too sure," he said.
"I'm sure the Leinster final had some kind of a bearing, but again, I'm using no excuses, we were beaten by a better team."