A bitterly disappointed Benji Marshall says the Kiwis face a long wait until they can make amends for their disappointing Four Nations showing with an improved performance at the 2013 World Cup.
New Zealand's only win at the tournament came against an undermanned Wales, a result that was bookended by heavy losses to Four Nations finalists Australia and England.
However, the Kiwi skipper said the contribution of the seven youngsters who debuted in 2011 would hold his side in good stead as they built towards defending their World Cup title in the UK.
Kevin Locke, Russell Packer, Alex Glenn and Gerard Beale are among the New Zealand players who made their Test debuts since the end of the NRL season in something of a baptism of fire.
"The worst part is we didn't play to anywhere near our potential - that's the hardest thing to swallow. Execution was a big thing. The things we wanted to do, we were doing the opposite," Marshall said of New Zealand's poor showing.
"This whole tour has not been where we wanted to be in terms of success, but in terms of the development of our younger players, as captain, I'm very proud of how they've performed throughout the tournament."
Meanwhile, New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney and hooker Thomas Leuluai have backed England's chances of beating Australia in the Four Nations final.
Wigan-based Leuluai, who knows more about the English side's potential than any of his New Zealand teammates, said he was expecting England to cause an upset and defeat the Kangaroos in Saturday's decider at Elland Road.
"England have got a big forward pack that really dominates - they're experienced warhorses and if they can do that again, they're a big chance," Leuluai said after the Kiwis lost 28-6 on Saturday to bow out of the tournament.
He also tipped Wigan teammate Sam Tomkins to cause the Kangaroos plenty of trouble after the England fullback ran rings around the Kiwis at the KC Stadium in Hull.
"He's probably going to be the main threat," Leuluai said. "We'd watched videos of him all week so we knew what he could do, but we still couldn't stop him. He's a special player and I guess I found out tonight that I'm glad he's normally on my side."
Kearney also spruiked England's prospects, admitting his side's indiscipline had cost them and allowed England to execute a "perfect game plan".
"England were a bit unlucky last week, but they backed up that performance with a really polished one tonight," he said.
"Admittedly we assisted them in a number of areas, but if they go into next weekend's game with that sort of attitude, I'm sure they'll challenge Australia."