Team New Zealand have been knocked out of the America's Cup World Series match-racing programme, but showed they are so, so close to finally mastering their under-sized catamaran - probably too late.
Dean Barker's crew entered this week's regatta at San Francisco with very little preparation time in their boat, which is a scaled-down version of the full 72-foot Cup craft.
They struggled near the back of fleet racing on the opening day, but showed marked improvement on Day Two, progressing to the match-racing semifinals and moving up the field slightly in the fleet.
Today, TNZ bowed to reigning champion James Spithill and his Oracle outfit in the head-to-head semi, but led right up until the last mark, losing the final cross and unable to haul their rivals back on the run home.
The result set up an all-Oracle final between Australian Spithill and Kiwi team-mate Russell Coutts, who accounted for Artemis White and Terry Hutchinson in the other elimination.
Over the last two days' sailing, Barker has shown some dominance over the early phases of the course, but tactically, has lost out over the business end. After their late capitulation to Spithill, the Kiwis again led through the opening legs in Race Five of the fleet contest, only to let the French Energy Team and their Aussie rival slip past again - almost a carbon copy of Race Four yesterday.
Their third-place finish promoted Team New Zealand another two spots - from seventh to fifth - after they lagged in ninth on Day One. But they lost that ground in the next race, caught in the bunch and tagged with a penalty that again saw they them trailling home.
Losing to Spithill is no disgrace. He simply destroyed the San Francisco Bay course, winning his third of six fleet races and virtually lapping his rivals.
Coutts could have his work cut out in tomorrow's match-racing final.