The deep disappointment of Dublin will last for some time for Glasgow Warriors and their supporters; that much is undeniable. Not so much the result in the Challenge Cup final – a 43-19 victory for Toulon – as the fact that, having got to the showpiece occasion, Franco Smith’s team failed to do themselves justice.

Similar sentiments were provoked by the Warriors’ previous outing, the 14-5 home defeat by Munster in the URC quarter-finals. There is no shame in losing to a Munster side who went on to give further proof of their prowess by beating Leinster in the next round to book their place in Saturday’s final against the Stormers.

But at the end of that game, as on Friday night at the Aviva Stadium, we were left with the conclusion that, when it counted most, Glasgow had barely fired a shot.

Yet, obviously, there was a lot more to the season just ended than those closing two games. And, for all that their deficiencies have just been rawly exposed by opponents of the highest quality, the Warriors have evidently made significant progress since Smith took over a mere nine months ago.

The crucial question to be asked, once the dust has properly settled on the Dublin defeat, is: to what extent will that progress continue in the seasons to come? Can we realistically expect Glasgow to once again fight their way successfully into the latter stages of two competitions? Or, after getting to the first European final in their history at the same time as finishing fourth in the URC, are they more likely to relapse into inconsistency?

Smith himself has been clear since his first day in the post that his is a multi-year mission, with the aim being to ensure that the team’s progress is indeed sustained. In that sense, he is surely ahead of schedule, having achieved relatively impressive results with a squad which is by and large the same as the one that ended up a sorry shambles in the last days of Danny Wilson’s tenure.

Granted, the South African has not got everything right; far from it. His team selection on Friday, for example, simply did not do what it was meant to.

Smith’s objective in picking JP du Preez and Sione Vailanu to start ahead of Richie Gray and Rory Darge respectively was, by maximising the pack’s bulk, to give it the best possible chance of battling the Toulon forwards to a standstill. The startling rapidity of the French side’s recycling, especially in a first half which ended with them 21-0 ahead, exposed the failure of that strategy.

Who knows? Perhaps Gray and Darge would have been just as impotent in the face of Toulon’s onslaught. And perhaps George Turner would have fared no better than the men who were preferred to him at hooker, Fraser Brown and Johnny Matthews.

Perhaps. But in big games it is generally best to select your best players. And, for all Smith’s success in deepening the squad, Gray, Darge and Turner remain three of his best players.

The emphasis on bulk up front has also been evident in Smith’s preference throughout his time in charge for a six-two split on the bench. It is a conservative strategy, designed to gain the upper hand through attrition rather than artistry, and has had its successes. But there comes a time in the evolution of a squad when the emphasis has to shift from winning a game by annulling the opposition’s threats to prevailing thanks to your own virtues.

So far, of course, Smith has only been able to work with the tools he has been handed. Presuming he gets the funds to make some signings in addition to the already-announced arrival of flanker Henco Venter from the Sharks, it will be fascinating to find out which areas of the squad he opts to strengthen.

It will be just as interesting to learn exactly how much money he will have available to him this summer. That will be out of Smith’s control, needless to say, and to a large extent it is also out of the hands of Warriors chief executive Al Kellock, given the team is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the SRU.

But it cannot have escaped Murrayfield’s attention that, as the Scottish game has been celebrating merely getting a team to a European final for just the second time (Edinburgh were Challenge Cup runners-up in 2015), a French town with a population of 75,000 is celebrating winning a European final for the second year in succession.

Champions Cup victors La Rochelle enjoy the backing of hundreds of local businesses. The Warriors brand is a strong one, and the team have generated a lot of civic pride throughout Glasgow, but their progress or lack of it is still very much in the hands of their parent company.

Is it wildly optimistic to hope that one day the team will evolve away from being a branch office with its HQ in the capital and be in far greater control of its own destiny? Because until the Warriors have real freedom to grow off the field, their growth on it may well be limited.