The Blues boss cast an envious glance at some of the transfer fees being spent by his League One rivals.
But he acknowledged how they are funding that spending by producing significant returns from developing and selling their own talent for huge fees.
Jack Tucker is a player who’s interested Cowley, but MK Dons are believed to have paid around £300,000 in training compensation to bring the defender in from Gillingham.
Meanwhile, Mo Eisa moved to the play-off semi-finallists from Peterborough last summer, for a fee in the region of £500.000.
Defender Matt Smith and midfielder Dan Kemp are other players who have joined the outfit at a cost in recent times.
MK Dons have conducted their business at a massive net profit, however, with their expenditure offset by players being sold for some big money.
Scott Twine, who was heavily linked with a move to Fratton Park last summer, has just joined Burnley for £5m, a year on from arriving at Stadium MK from Swindon for £300.000 in compensation.
Midfielder Matt O’Riley joined Celtic for £1.5m in January, while Harry Darling has moved to Swansea City this summer for a similar fee.
Cowley acknowledged his rivals are showing how to operate successfully at this level.
He said: ‘I’d imagine they (MK Dons) paid significant money for Tucker.
‘They also did that last year when they signed Mo Eisa for good money.
‘But they’ve sold players and reinvested it, that’s the model.
‘It’s a successful model for MK at the moment. - that absolutely has to be the aspiration.
‘We are clear we would like to bring some young players into the football club we can then develop and improve.
‘We showed last year with the likes of Gavin (Bazunu), Hayden (Carter) and George (Hirst) we can really develop young players.
‘If you look at those three and their journeys through the season, they improved and improved as it unfolded.
‘Ideally we’d like those players to be our own so we can benefit more long term, and obviously enjoy them as assets once they are ready to move on.'