Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley says the Magpies' first win of the season has done little to reduce the external pressure on his side after it nearly came undone in a "lacklustre" second half against Carlton.
The Pies won by 24 points after reeling in the Blues' early 19-point lead with a spate of 10 unanswered goals that stretched from 15 minutes in the first quarter to five minutes into the third.
That burst came with the additional positive the Pies were able to benefit from tinkering with their forward set up with the rotation of a number of midfielders – namely Will Hoskin-Elliott, Josh Thomas, Steele Sidebottom and Adam Treloar – making an impact in attack.
But it was that red-hot period that also could have been their undoing, with Buckley intimating his players lost their appetite for the contest because of it, reflected in how the Blues won the second half by two goals.
"The scoreboard looked really good for us and potentially we got carried away with that," Buckley said.
"We lost some of our disciplines with the way we wanted to play so we didn't play with a great conviction in the second half, but you take the win."
There were still positives to be gleaned from the result, which came after a poor effort against Hawthorn in round one and a gallant but unsuccessful appearance against Greater Western Sydney last week.
"It's not a feeling of relief. We're happy to get a win. We didn't play with much conviction in the second half, but after a slow start, it was a good result," says Nathan Buckley post-match #FOREVER pic.twitter.com/emsxbzVgBR— Collingwood FC (@CollingwoodFC) April 6, 2018
The three-goal game of Hoskin-Elliott was one, after Buckley admitted to challenging him during the week following a slow start to the season.
And, the 32 hit-out, 25-disposal game of ruckman Brodie Grundy was another, even though Buckley said Grundy was another who lost his consistency after the main break.
"He was particularly good when we got good, [Matthew] Kreuzer had him early and then in that patch when we dominated the game I thought Brodie was dominant," Buckley said.
"Then it was a bit up and down in the second half … his first half was huge and a big part of why we were able to put that gap on the scoreboard."
The Pies will be sweating on the match review outcome of a fourth-quarter potentially-dangerous sling tackle by Steele Sidebottom that left Zac Fisher dazed.
"There's a duty of care and I think he showed a duty of care, but I'm glad the player got up and played the rest of the game out, that's as significant as anything these days," Buckley said.
Buckley said he would also continue to work on the mystery that is the Pies' inability to gain any ascendency when it comes to ground-ball gets.
They were ranked 18th in the competition going into round three in the statistic, and again lost the count on Friday night.
"We're scratching our heads about that, we've got to do better," Buckley said.
"The only quarter we won ground ball in tonight was the second quarter.
"It's in our DNA, we're a grunt side, we love the contest and you always try and balance that up with playing with shape and efficiency.
"I think our ball use has been better in the last couple of weeks, especially off the back half.
“We definitely hit up inside 50 a lot better early in the match, but our ground ball numbers need to improve and that generally comes from work rate and cleanliness.
"It is something we need to continue to keep an eye on."
"It's in our DNA to be a grunt side. We love the contest + want to play with shape + efficiency. (That said) our ground ball numbers need to improve," - Buckley #FOREVER— Collingwood FC (@CollingwoodFC) April 6, 2018