The Landmark Country Football Championships showcase the best senior talent outside of the AFL and WAFL systems in the state, so it was always going to be tough going for the Peel Cavaliers when they took to the field with their youngest side in years at the 2019 campaign over the weekend.
But going without a win and finishing at the bottom of the table doesn't cast a picture of total doom and gloom for head coach Rod Tregenza, who came away impressed with the effort and improvement of his young core of players.
A tough opening match against the South West somewhat set the tone for Peel's carnival.
In the clash they showed a competitive brand of football in spurts, particularly in the opening 10 minutes, but they eventually succumbed to a vastly more experienced defending champion.
Brendan Tingey was superb around the contest, while James Fenton propelled a number of plays on the wing in the loss.
From there the Cavaliers moved into a clash with grand finalists Goldfields, which saw them ousted 3.4 (22) to 7.9 (51) despite another heroic effort from Fenton and solid games from Jay Walton, Rob Falkstrom and Josh Branchi.
The two losses made for a tough day one for the Peel outfit, and it failed to get any easier when they faced eventual premiers Upper Great Southern to start day two.
But young Pinjarra gun Harley Divitini was able to provide a bright spot in the 2.2 (14) to 6.8 (44) defeat, booting both of Peel's goals in a best afield display.
The squad's best chance for a win came against Avon in the final game of the carnival.
Peel held an 11-point lead at half time but fell away in the second period to take a fourth straight loss.
The defeat capped off what on the surface appears a dour carnival for the Cavaliers, but Tregenza was adamant his side had made significant strides towards future campaigns.
"We were so young it's really hard to judge how you're supposed to go against the best country footballers in the state," he said.
"But I couldn't question the boys' effort and the way they improved towards the end was really impressive. There's plenty of positives.
"Particularly the young guys in their first carnival like Jimmy Fenton, Mitch Jones, Ivan Lyndon, Brayden Harris, Harley Divitini - all of those guys will be better off for having competed at Landmark.
"If we can keep this core group of guys together they'll be a really tough side to beat in a few years."
Cavaliers players will now return to their local clubs as they brace for the home stretch of the Peel Football and Netball League season.