Nathan Buckley said he was "elated" but not relieved after the Magpies' last-gasp win over Carlton on Saturday.
Collingwood trailed by 11 points deep into the last term against last year's wooden-spooners, but rallied to kick the final five goals of the game to claim a 19-point win at the MCG.
The Magpies were staring down the biggest upset of the season against the Blues, which entered the game in 18th position on the ladder, before scraping home, but Buckley was proud of his side's strength.
"It depends what prism you want to look at it. If you thought it was a done deal, if you thought the game was already played, then you'll look at it through that prism," he said post-game.
"But if you look at it the way we did as a game that had to be won, then we're really happy with the capacity of the players in that last 10-15 minutes to go and get it done.
"When you get that far in it's not about talent any more or structure or set ups, it's about who wants to win most, and it was us."
It was a seesawing contest throughout the afternoon, with the Blues generally holding sway but never blowing the Pies out of the game.
The Pies' weight of midfield contributors was telling in the result, with trio Tom Phillips (34 disposals, two goals), Steele Sidebottom (34) and Adam Treloar (34, one goal) vital.
Phillips was everywhere in the final term, including giving away a 50-metre penalty that resulted in a goal to Blues midfielder David Cuningham.
With Cuningham already awarded a 50m penalty, Phillips ran ahead of the young Blue and infringed on his space, meaning the Pies had given away a 100m penalty and a goal from point-blank range.
The goal was one of three the Blues kicked in the middle of the last quarter as they broke out to an 11-point lead.
Buckley, who praised Phillips' performance, said it was fortunate the crucial error did not end up costing the Pies in a close contest.
"Everyone saw it happening. I saw it happening. But there was only one bloke who didn't see it happening, the bloke who needed to," he said.
"It could've been telling. It was a tight game. There were marginal things that could've gone either way, whether it's umpiring or decisions you make or a player gets a knock and goes down … there's different things that happen.
"Some of them are out of your control, you just have to look after more of the things in your control."
Key forward Mason Cox (ankle) and half-back James Aish (concussion) appear likely to be available next week against St Kilda at the MCG, while superstar forward Jordan De Goey will be managed throughout the week as he deals with shin soreness.
"Blokes aren't 100 per cent fit this time of the year but he played the game out and had an enormous impact, whether it was in the midfield or forward," Buckley said of De Goey.
"He's a game-winner, some of the contests that he wins are really crucial. I reckon we might look after him during the week."