Cotter is bitterly disappointed with the result in Port Elizabeth - but with three wins from four games and 42 players used in the course of the trip, he has a much better idea of what resources he has and what needs to be done.
He explained: “The tour, in all, has given me the opportunity to see a number of players, assess the depth, get a good impression of what is available and what needs to be developed to become competitive - and we got three wins out of it as well.
“All in all, we got a good look at ourselves in the last game but we will put that in context of availablilty, the team, the end of tour and the end of the season.
“It was a mixture of having young players, and it coming at the end of season as well as the travel.
“Coming to South Africa, there was jetlag the first two or three days. I know from my own Super Rugby experience that it is very difficult to perform on your first week after travelling. I thought the guys put up a brave effort.”
Cotter admitted that the eight-try hammering by South Africa was hard to take but pointed out that the Scots have blooded 22 new caps in the last year alone.
He insists that increases the level of competition for places as he starts to look harder at who will make it into the RBS 6 Nations squad and who will go on to press for spots at the Rugby World Cup.
He continued: “I am really happy with the attitude and the work ethic the players have. They are good people, essentially, and that is what makes a good team.
“That is why I am positive and was positive after the game. There is scope to shift them and a real desire to perform better as a team. Those are positive things we see as coaching staff.”
Everybody involved always knew that the final game was going to be the toughest of the tour for Scotland.
Not only were Cotter’s men facing the strongest opposition but they had the weakest team to put out with none of the players based in England or France being made available by their clubs.
South Africa were in the same position but had fewer players affected, while their resources dwarf Scotland’s - and they were able to recall the likes of 70-cap veteran Schalk Burger.
Scotland had to send an emergency call for Adam Ashe, barely even a fringe player at Glasgow Warriors after his big development season was wrecked by a persistent hamstring injury.
Add to that the fact Scotland had had to travel nearly 20,000 miles across three time zones to get to South Africa via a marathon trek up and down the American continent and Cotter felt justified in not reading too much into the result.
He added: “I was encouraged by the spirit and determination of the players to keep developing and keep trying to put things in place and construct things.
“We will go forward with a plan to improve physically, improve technically and to apply tactics that suit us and the profile of the team. I go away with plenty of things to think about, which is good.”