Collingwood is starting to develop the familiarity within its playing group required to become a top AFL team, skipper Scott Pendlebury says.

The Magpies will be looking to back up one of their most impressive victories in recent years – the 48-point thumping Adelaide last round – against Essendon in Wednesday’s ANZAC Day blockbuster at the MCG.

Pendlebury said he had noticed signs in the club's game style over the last few weeks that made him bullish about what his team could produce in 2018.

“I think we're building the brand of footy that we want to play,” Pendlebury said.

“We're slowly building, I think. All the great sides – Hawthorn, Geelong – it's all built on trust.

“It's all built on being a cohesive unit, and I think that's what we're aspiring to do and we're trying to get better and better every week.

“The challenge for every side is to get better every week. We played so well against Adelaide, but it doesn't count for much come tomorrow.”

In mainly wet conditions, the Magpies were clean around the contest and amassed more than 30 more contested possessions than the Crows (199-163) when the teams met at Adelaide Oval almost two weeks ago.

Fourth-gamer Jaidyn Stephenson booted five goals, while Steele Sidebottom (43 disposals, 26 contested) and Brodie Grundy (33 touches and 40 hit-outs) were dominant against the Crows.

Pendlebury, who had 30 touches against the Crows, said the challenge for his side was to replicate that performance away from home on the big stage of the MCG in front of an expected crowd of about 95,000.

“We want to hopefully pick up from where we left off, but we know it's going to be intense, we know it's going to be hot from the start and we'll have to jump out of the gates ready to go,” he said.

Scott Pendlebury leads Collingwood out onto the Adelaide Oval in round four.

“It is like a final early and whether that's being clean and giving handballs or whether it's taking territory early; they're the decisions the players have to make.

“You can go in with the best-laid plans, but as players we've got to feel our way through the occasion.”

Pendlebury, who has played 256 career games, said he still gets nervous when the Last Post and national anthem are played.

“We're so fortunate to be part of that game and we've got a few first-timers tomorrow that will go through all those experiences, which is fantastic for them,” Pendlebury said.

My message to them is stay composed and enjoy the occasion, but that's not how I handled it … I was a bit of a mess (in his first ANZAC Day game).

“Stevo's (Stephenson) a 19-year-old kid who is going to play in front of 100,000 people tomorrow, so he's excited by it.”

Collingwood players line up for the Last Post during Scott Pendlebury's first ANZAC Day match in 2007.