Believing that "art predicted life" when she was first introduced to the track, Jo Jo explained, "when I started dating a few years later, I wondered if those songwriters hadn’t instinctively picked up on something.” Another Billboard critic felt that the song was better than most singles playing on the radio at the time, lauding it as a track that "provides desperately needed balance to a top 40 landscape that is lacking a lot in the way of singable melodies." About.com's Bill Lamb was receptive towards Jo Jo's vocal performance, writing that the singer "provides just enough control to keep [its] sentiments ...
from going overboard and, by the end of the song, proves high notes are well within her range", while selecting "Too Little Too Late" as one of the album's "Top Tracks".
Upon learning that Bruce Carbone, executive vice president of A&R at Universal Records, was interested in obtaining new material for Jo Jo's then-upcoming second studio album, Steinberg sent a demo recording of "Too Little Too Late" to Carbone, who immediately expressed how much he liked the song.
According to Vibe, the overall more mature, personal sentiment of the album prompted her to record "Too Little Too Late", having experienced both her first love and first heartbreak since the release of her self-titled debut album.
Alex Macpherson from The Guardian wrote that the singer remains "at her best when compulsively dissecting emotional situations straight out of high-school movies via the medium of big, heartfelt choruses", identifying "Too Little Too Late" as a "wonderfully weepy pinnacle".
Crowning the song one of the best 10 "Feel-Good Break-Up Songs" in 2007, Slice contributor Nicolle Weeks joke that nothing is "more humbling than a twerpy 15-year-old who can concisely summarize the way I feel about my stunted relationship", citing "Boy you know all the right things to say (You know it's just too little too late)" as the track's best lyric.
That’s the antidote of the enduring pop kiss-off, though its insights probably also do often come a little too late.
A remix of this song is featured on the dance video game Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party.
A Spanish version of the song was released on select non-US editions of The High Road.
Alexander had begun writing "Too Little Too Late" on his own before Steinberg joined him to complete it, particularly contributing lyrics and a bridge to the music Alexander had already composed for the song's verses and chorus.
Steinberg identified "Too Little Too Late" as one of the few songs in his career to which he contributed only after some of it had already been written, with Alexander introducing the song to him after he had already conceived its title, as well as some of the ballad's lyrics and melody, admitting that Steinberg essentially "helped him finish writing that song and that lyric." After hearing Cunningham perform another one of her original songs, Steinberg invited her to collaborate with him on writing "Too Little Too Late", which they successfully completed by the following day during a writing session with Alexander.
Its composition and theme about an unsuccessful relationship have drawn comparisons to Jo Jo's 2004 debut single, "Leave (Get Out)" from her previous debut album.