Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll is refusing to be too downbeat after his side's RBS 6 Nations campaign finished in disappointing style.
O'Driscoll led his side to three successive victories to give the Irish hopes of a Grand Slam, but defeats against France and Wales consigned them to third place.
"We have not become a bad team just because we lost two games in the tournament. We've worked hard to get where we are. But now we realise we still have some way to go," he said.
"Strength in depth in certain positions is always going to cause us trouble, but we have to come to terms with that."
Ireland's backline had been heralded as one of the most gifted in world rugby, but without Gordon D'Arcy and Shane Horgan it lacked game breakers with only O'Driscoll providing any inspiration.
D'Arcy played little over 20 minutes of RBS 6 Nations rugby after damaging his hamstring against Italy in the opener while Horgan's fractured thumb ruled him out for the business end of the championship.
"I think Shane was the biggest loss we had. He played in the November series and played really well, and then he played the first three Six Nations games and we won all three," said O'Driscoll.
"He sat at home watching the last two matches and we lost. I think that speaks volumes about how much I rate him and how valuable he is to this Irish side."
For all the doom and gloom, however, it is indisputable that the Emerald Isle have come a long way over the last three years with their heightened expectations evidence of their status as a significant force in world rugby.
"We are feeling dejected because we lost two out of the five games. Years ago, if we had won three, we would have been celebrating out there with Wales," added O'Driscoll.
"Times have moved on and we are at the point now where we want to continue to better ourselves each year."
England Under-18 head coach John Fletcher insists his young side will be better for the experience after beating Italy in the bronze final to round out their 2015 Rugby Europe U18 Championship campaign in style.