Ducati ended the three-day test at Sepang two seconds off the pace set by the leading Honda of Dani Pedrosa, a similar gap to the top bikes as 2012, when the team was in disarray.
It's believed that Ducati wanted to use this test simply to set a baseline from which to improve during the rest of the preseason and early season races. But even new Ducati MotoGP team director Paolo Ciabatti admitted the gulf between Ducati and its Japanese rivals Honda and Yamaha is larger than expected.
"We knew we were starting from a base that needed significant development work, but it's not nice to realize we're still so far from the leaders," Ciabatti said.
So what's next on the drawing board on Borgo Panigale? New Ducati Racing boss Bernhard Gobmeier claimed the Desmosedici GP13 needed evolution, not revolution, during the preseason Vrooom media event earlier this month in the Italian Dolomites.
But Ducati factory riders Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso publicly called for big changes to the GP13 after the Sepang test ended Thursday.
It's unlikely Ducati will follow that route, at least in the short term.
The team already has tried a carbon-fiber frame with the engine as a stressed member, and that didn't work for any rider not named Casey Stoner. Ducati Corse switched to a traditional alloy-frame concept in 2012, similar to that used by its Japanese rivals, after Valentino Rossi begged team technical guru Filippo Preziosi during the 2011 season.
There is no magic bullet. Track time may offer the prospect of a few steps forward, but Ducati seems to be of the mind that curentley that they will skip the test in March at Austin - which Honda and Yamaha will attend. Ducati cited cost issues as the reason they won't attend. Some insiders suggest that adding a pre-season test to the schedule--on another continent--with three or four riders and full crew, could cost Ducati as much as 6-800,000 Euros with flights, freight fees and other costs.
"The test at Austin right now are a 'no,' but the door is still open and I hope they change their mind," Hayden told Italian media. "Without this test, we will not have a chance against Honda and Yamaha in the race (in April at Austin). It would give us a good opportunity to learn the track and find a base set."