Bernard Flynn warned Meath have to completely reassess the direction they are heading after an "embarrassing" and "humiliating" defeat to Kildare in the Lienster SFC semi-final.
The Lilywhites stormed into their first Leinster final in eight years with a comprehensive 2-16 to 0-13 win in Tullamore.
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Cian O'Neill's charges were supreme, possessing more muscle, guile and drive than their overwhelmed opponents.
Flynn, a two-time All-Ireland winner with the Royal County, was crestfallen at the manner of the loss and admitted Meath are miles behind where they need to be.
"I believed we were turning a corner," he told RTÉ 2fm's Game On.
"I thought against Galway in the league we turned a corner. I have to put my hand up, it doesn't look like that.
"Kildare were immense. We got a right spanking, a footballing lesson and it's back to the drawing board.
"Long-term, Meath management learned a serious amount about players and the squad. We need to strengthen it because it was actually embarrassing and humiliating at times.
"There's no dressing it up. I'm not being in any way disrespectful in saying that. We got a footballing lesson from Kildare, they were brilliant, and we weren't at the races.
"Sometimes you have a bad day at the office but some of the things on the field of play... It was a big pitch, the heat was there.
"The footballing skills and the players Kildare had, tactically they were absolutely brilliant, defensively they were awesome. Nine points flattered us, it really did.
"The conditioning is going on for years in Kildare, but their football, their foot-passing, their scoring, their execution... they'd ten bad wides in the first half. It's a shocking, tough lesson for Meath."