'No question there will be changes to that Mayo group next season' - Horan
James Horan's second coming had an all too familiar feel to it.
Horan and Mayo had been here before, losing to Dublin in a major championship match. But on most of those occasions they left feeling like they were close, that a grain of rice would tip the scale in their favour.
Saturday was different.
In the third quarter Dublin had simply blown them away and the only team to consistently put it up to Jim Gavin's men suddenly looked as far away as anyone else. If this was a body blow for Mayo football, it was a shot across the bows of the rest of football's pretenders.
It felt like the end of something too. No decisions were taken or announcements made but James Horan hinted afterwards that the end of a long road had come for some of his players. There was a new guard on the way and the torch will be passed to them to try to bridge what felt like a seismic gap between the two teams over the next few years.
"There's no question there will be changes on that Mayo group next year, I think that's clear but that will take its own course," reflected Horan.
"We have a huge amount of young players that are involved this year and new players that are involved and if we use that right today its a real learning to see where the top standard is.
"So we have to use it that way, otherwise it's a hopeless cause. But we will learn from today, there are a lot of guys in the 26 and outside the 26 that are pushing hard, they didn't make it today but today will certainly be a significant learning for those guys."
Horan couldn't offer any insight into what it was Dublin did after half-time that changed the game. For him, there was no obvious tactical shift. No change in how they did their business that brought Mayo's world crumbling down around them.
When Dublin pinned back their ears, Mayo had no answer. The turnovers and blocks they were making dried up.
"They were very strong, their running is very strong and their conditioning is very good," Horan replied when asked if that second-half performance was as good as he has seen Dublin playing.
"They looked impressive when they were running through us and maybe our legs got a bit heavy when they were running through us. I'm not making excuses but I would say our legs were a bit heavy so that was a double whammy and makes them look a lot stronger and makes us look tired.
"But there's no question their conditions and their application is top rate."
"A team like Dublin are always going to come at you and we were on the ropes and we didn't deal with it well. They came running at us from a lot of different angles and they really got their tails up so it took us a while to adjust to what was happening but they were in control of the game by that stage. They had a very strong period and we just couldn't deal with it."
What would he do differently if he had that crucial third quarter back again?
"Try to win a few more kick-outs, I think when we are under pressure like that, as every team is, maybe if we could have tried to win a couple of more kick-outs and try to build a score.
"I think we had a couple of chances and we rushed the shots and I think if we got a score in there it would have settled us down a little bit maybe.
"But it just didn't work out that way."
That was Mayo's ninth championship game and second inside a week against top class opposition. And while he was keen to stress he wasn't looking for mitigation for his side's second-half performance, Horan believes the current schedule asks too much of players.
"It's hard to say for sure (what toll the schedule of matches took on his players) but if you think about the journey we have been on this year and apply any common sense to it, the turnaround that they are asking amateur players to do, I think is crazy.
"I didn't really mention it all year and I'm not at all in any way using it as an excuse … we are coming back from games at 2am in the morning and guys being in work on a Monday and what we are asking players to do is very tough.
"Maybe give two weeks for a semi-final, that would be a start, something simple. I just think the turnaround to the semi-final was tough.
"But Dublin today were fantastic in the second half."