Vice-captain captain Brendan McCullum insists New Zealand are thinking positively following their run to the final of the ICC Champions Trophy.
The Black Caps suffered a disappointing six-wicket loss against Australia at Centurion to conclude their campaign but refused to exit without a fight, despite the absence of a number of regulars.
New Zealand captain and one of the tournament's star players Daniel Vettori was the stand out name amongst the absentees after a hamstring injury caused the all-rounder to pull out of the final at the last minute.
The loss came as a blow to New Zealand, with first-choice players Jacob Oram, Jesse Ryder and Daryl Tuffey already out after sustaining injuries earlier in the competition.
McCullum, who stood in as captain for the final in Vettori's absence, is however adamant that the circumstances have only made the Black Caps more optimistic.
"I think it's certainly a step forward for us," he said.
"We've had some pretty tough times over the last couple of years, not just losing players to injuries but also through retirements and obviously the ICL (Indian Cricket League) when it was running.
"Things have been a little tough from that point of view, but I think it's given our guys opportunities.
"We're proud of what we've achieved in terms of arriving in the final and giving ourselves an opportunity to walk away with a trophy. It wasn't to be this time, but we're proud of the way we've played in this tournament."
McCullum also insisted that the quality of the team has continued to develop and that they should now be able to progress.
"If you look at the New Zealand team as a squad of 20 or 25 players, you've got guys capable of performing on the international stage and also a number of match-winners," he said.
"While we are disappointed with what happened in the final, we're certainly proud of what we have achieved, through some tough times.
"I think if we can continue to capture that in tournaments and series in the future, this team will certainly move forward."
The stand-in captain also commented that with the rising popularity of Twenty20 cricket, the Champions Trophy served the 50-over format well.
"I thought this tournament was good - the top eight teams in the world coming together and playing over a short period of time. I thought it worked well," added McCullum.
"While I guess there weren't too many nail-biting games, I still think the quality of cricket was fantastic.
"I think that if 50-over cricket is to remain in the calendar, then it's a great way to push it forward with tournaments like the Champions Trophy."