The 25-year-old - Ireland's top tackler (11) in Cardiff - has been a firm fixture in the Irish set-up since making his debut against the Welsh in 2002.
The 32-20 defeat at the hands of the Dragons marked the Young Munster giant's 25th Test in Ireland's last 27. So if anyone is to hazard a guess as to what is likely to happen to the Irish squad in the near future - it may as well be Lions certainty O'Connell.
"Losing to Wales was a massive disappointment. We've gone backwards in this Championship. I thought we were ready to take the next step and push on but obviously we weren't," he admitted.
"Now we must stand back, take a look at ourselves and try to go forward again. I don't think there will be a rebuilding period. No one has talked about retiring. It will be a gradual thing if players are replaced."
Provincial colleague Marcus Horan - who came on as a substitute to open Ireland's try account on Saturday - echoed O'Connell's thoughts.
"I don't think we are looking at the end of an era here. There is a strength in depth in the squad. Some guys will probably move on but nobody said anything about this being their last chance of a Championship or anything like that," insisted the Shannon prop.
"It was hard to come back from the disappointent of the French defeat last week but there was something to play for here. A lot of guys were fighting for that - regardless of what their futures hold."