It was football's version of rope-a-dope.
Carlton outplayed Collingwood for three quarters of Saturday's clash at the MCG.
The Blues were energetic, enthusiastic and exciting. They kicked big goals, whipped the crowd into a frenzy and threatened to snare perhaps the biggest victory of Brendon Bolton's tenure at the club.
They even jumped to an 11-point lead at the 20-minute mark of the final quarter. And then, just as Carlton could start thinking about a memorable win, Collingwood went bang.
The Pies booted the final five goals of the game to register a 19-point win over their arch rivals, with late majors to Jordan De Goey, Tom Phillips and Will Hoskin-Elliott sealing the victory.
The 16.10 (106) to 13.9 (87) result was a heart-breaker for the Blues, another tight loss and another missed opportunity when the game was there to take.
The battle between last year's wooden spooners and Grand Finalists was more even than most would have predicted, largely thanks to a herculean midfield effort from Blues superstar Patrick Cripps.
The Carlton skipper gathered a game-high 35 disposals (19 contested) and 13 clearances (eight out of the centre) and was easily best afield. Again, however, he won't reap the rewards of his performance.
While Carlton had plenty of contributors, Collingwood's spread of performers in the big moments proved critical.
Treloar (34 disposals), Phillips (34 and two goals) and Steele Sidebottom (34) were enormous in a midfield unit fed by star ruckman Brodie Grundy (25 disposals, two goals, 49 hit-outs), but it was never easy going for the Magpies, who always remained close enough to Carlton despite not being at their sharpest.
Carlton was in it from the start. Its first-quarter efforts resulted in a three-point deficit at the opening change, but its intent was clear.
The Blues' defensive effort restricted the Pies to only two marks inside-50 and 13 entries, but Collingwood's class made it more dangerous when it surged into attack.
But Carlton had a sniff. And when Bolton's men kicked four consecutive goals midway through the second term, they had jumped the Pies to take an 11-point lead.
Cripps was everywhere, his handballs opening space for teammates, and the Blues forwards, including Harry McKay and Mitch McGovern, were both threatening.
Collingwood was not at its lethal best, but responded when challenged, with late goals to Phillips and Grundy evening scores at the main break.
Still the Blues' confidence didn't dissipate. Carlton took control of the contest in the third term. Charlie Curnow outbodied Darcy Moore to steam in to an open goal, before David Cuningham slotted a difficult kick from the pocket.
And when McKay marked across half-forward, swung onto his left boot and sunk a long shot, the Blues had jumped to a 12-point lead.
Collingwood hit back, again, but the advantage was with Carlton heading into the final change with a five-point break.
The Magpies flexed their muscles early in the final term but the Blues hit back, when Cripps' baulking goal was followed by a set shot by Cuningham, who benefited from back-to-back 50-metre penalties, before McGovern strolled into an open goal.
At that stage, the Blues looked headed for a famous upset victory.
Carlton looked set to finally claim a big scalp, and in doing so would have silenced the scepticism around its progress. But it didn't come, not this week anyway, as the Pies hit top gear when it mattered most.
Carlton: Charlie Curnow left the field with what appeared to be an ankle injury in the third term and went down to the Blues rooms for treatment. The star forward returned to the field in the final term and played out the game.
Collingwood: Chris Mayne was accidentally kicked in the head by a teammate in the third quarter and was motionless on the ground before receiving medical attention. He walked off the field and didn't return due to concussion concerns. Josh Thomas limped from the field with an ankle issue in the final term.
Collingwood will face St Kilda next Saturday at the MCG, while Carlton travels to Giants Stadium to take on Greater Western Sydney on Sunday.
CARLTON 1.4 5.6 10.8 13.9 (87)
COLLINGWOOD 2.1 5.6 9.9 16.10 (106)
Carlton: McGovern 3, Cuningham 2, McKay 2, C.Curnow 2, Cripps, Murphy, Silvagni, Gibbons
Collingwood: Hoskin-Elliott 2, Phillips 2, De Goey 2, Brown 2, Stephenson 2, Grundy 2, Crisp, Treloar, Mihocek, Thomas
Carlton: Cripps, Murphy, Cuningham, E.Curnow, Marchbank, McGovern
Collingwood: Treloar, Phillips, Sidebottom, Grundy, Crisp, Brown
Carlton: C.Curnow (ankle)
Collingwood: Mayne (concussion), Thomas (ankle)
Umpires: Dalgleish, Howorth, Fleer
Official crowd: 69,289 at the MCG