The "comedy of errors" Collingwood produced against Hawthorn was a direct result of the Magpies' failure to handle the heat of the round one clash, coach Nathan Buckley says.

Buckley has also challenged big man Mason Cox to respond to a "real test of character" after he struggled to make an impact as their new forward focal point.

The Magpies were wasteful with their forward entries, recording just two less than the Hawks (60-58) despite losing by 34 points, and struggled to hit targets across the ground.

Despite missing players likes Jamie Elliott, Daniel Wells, Tyson Goldsack and Jordan De Goey, Buckley said he was confident the Pies went in with a team that could have matched it with the Hawks' talented line up.

But, he lamented their poor execution on the night.

"We had a lot of blokes that lowered their colours on their normal performance. We didn't have a lot of blokes that I reckon would have played to their normal standard individually," Buckley said.

"We looked like we weren't able to handle Hawthorn's pressure, so credit to them for that, it's not something they're renowned for through the midfield.

"We were expecting it, but I don't think we handled it well.

Debutant Sam Murray applies a tackle to Hawthorn's Jarman Impey.

"We couldn't have played more poorly in larger chunks or had less contributors and yet still be in the game … it was just a comedy of errors.

"We actually played an okay structured game, and that's why we were still in the contest.

"But we just didn't execute our opportunities well enough and didn't have enough blokes that brought their strengths to the table."Cox appeared set for the new responsibility of the Pies' key forward following the move of Darcy Moore to defence, after kicking four goals against the Western Bulldogs in a pre-season game earlier this month.

But the big American struggled to hold a mark in slippery conditions on Saturday night and finished with just six disposals and no score.

"He's being gloving them all pre-season, he's had a really strong pre-season," Buckley said.

"I suppose it's a real test of character now, of ours and of his, of how does he respond to that.

"He's getting his hands to them more often than he ever has.

"He's had a bad night. The challenge for him is to make it a bad night and not a normal occurrence.

"I'm pretty confident he'll undo some damage."

The Pies may need to call up replacements for Josh Smith (hamstring) and Ben Crocker (knock to back) for next Saturday's clash with Greater Western Sydney at the MCG, with both suffering injuries late in the game.