They say you have to lose one to win one, and that might just be the case for the Parramatta Eels.

There is no question as to the result of the 2022 grand final - the men in blue and gold were comprehensively outplayed by the Panthers from the first minute to the last in Sunday evening's decider.

The first ten minutes saw the Eels somewhat in the game as a competitive opposition, but the first try followed by the addition of Apisai Koroisau to the game was all it took for the Panthers to simply put their foot down and sprint away with the game.

You could run all the analysis you want on the grand final, but at the end of the day, the simple fact is that the Panthers, in their third straight decider, bullied the Eels.

They won the battle of the ruck from the opening exchanges, had far better line speed and as a result, spent much of the game camped in Parramatta's red zone.

That eventually told on the scoreboard, with the Panthers at one point leading 28 points to nil before a pair of consolation tries for Parramatta brought some respectability to the final scoreline.

But no one remembers a respectable scoreline if you're on the losing side of a grand final.

Unless you manage to turn it around into a winning one the following season, as the Panthers did last year following their 2020 grand final loss to the Melbourne Storm.

The Panthers have now won two straight, and while they will enter the 2023 season as favourites to make it three straight with only a few departures and a club system which has brought premierships in reserve grade, Jersey Flegg and the SG Ball as well as the NRL, Penrith will only build on the back of their premiership.

2022 NRL Grand Final - Panthers v Eels

For much of the year, the popular narrative has been that the Eels must win a premiership this year, or they won't win one at all in this window of opportunity.

Given the club had been bounced out in the semi-finals three years in a row, and at various points this year, looked anything but a top eight side, the fact they made the grand final came as enough of a surprise to the majority.

Brad Arthur's side had to do it the hard way as well after losing to the Panthers in Week 1 of the finals, being forced to play the Raiders in a semi-final, before heading to Townsville and getting the job done in a thriller against the North Queensland Cowboys in what were tricky conditions.

But that popular narrative surrounding the Eels now having their window of opportunity slammed shut doesn't make a great deal of sense.

The narrative has been created due to the club's departures - Reed Mahoney and Isaiah Papali'i are the main two, but you can also add the names Oregon Kaufusi, Marata Niukore, Tom Opacic and Ray Stone to the list.

That means 24 members out of this year's top 30, and all but four of last night's grand final side are set to hang around at the blue and gold in 2023.

Of those, Mahoney will be replaced by Josh Hodgson, who, provided he can stay fit still has a lot to offer and is a former grand finalist with the Canberra Raiders from the infamous 2019 decider.

J'maine Hopgood also joins from the Panthers in a signing which could add plenty.

He might be yet to breakout at NRL level, but don't be surprised if he holds a permanent bench position next year, such is his talent despite the inability to break into a Penrith system where he was stuck behind James Fisher-Harris, Moses Leota, Isaah Yeo, Spencer Leniu and Scott Sorensen for a spot in the team to play in the middle third.

The Eels also had injury issues this year, with players like Sean Russell struggling to get onto the park, while they have a great crop of development players coming through, led by former Rabbitoh Ky Rodwell.

He will likely be in contention for more of a role next season, as will young outside back Samuel Loizou.

But more than Parramatta being able to cover their departures is the lack of improvement from other sides around them who missed out by slim margins this year.

You can safely assume that the North Queensland Cowboys and Cronulla Sharks may be better for the run and will have stronger seasons again, but that doesn't mean either club is in a premiership-winning position.

I wrote extensively on Cronulla's plight last week despite the excellent season of Nicho Hynes, while the Cowboys may still lack a gamebreaker or two despite the talent and attitude they have been able to build right across the park.

Other teams will still be in the mix - the usual suspects of the Roosters and Rabbitohs in particular, while the Sea Eagles hold the X-Factor card with Tom Trbojevic missing most of this season thanks to injury, although the instability at the club and surrounding the future of Des Hasler could make 2023 a long winter for the men from the Northern Beaches.

But none are set to improve to the level that puts them into favouritism for the competition, which leaves the Eels, experienced and fired up from a losing grand final effort, simply chasing more consistency next season to finish higher than fourth.

That could ultimately be the key to 2023, particularly if the Panthers are once again at the top of the ladder - not that beating the Panthers was an issue for the blue and gold during the regular season.

Winning premierships is not an easy job, no matter who you are, and the fact Parramatta made the grand final is enough to prove their own level of improvement.

It will also provide stability to the club, with speculation over Brad Arthur's future now likely to be tossed out the back window.

There is talk that premiership-winning coach Michael Maguire will join in an assistant role next year which will only add more experience and know-how on how to get the job done at the back end of the season.

Parramatta won't enter as favourites in 2023, but to suggest their premiership window has just slammed shut is foolish.