Nathan Buckley labelled last week's performance the worst he'd seen for a long time.

"I was wrong last week," Buckley said on Saturday night. 

This had clearly overtaken it.

After an incredibly disappointing 44-point loss to North Melbourne, where Collingwood was outplayed from the outset, Buckley solemnly laid it all on the line. He questioned his side's physicality, its effort and his players’ willingness to support teammates.

"We're bloody embarrassed with the way we played," Buckley said.

"We have real pride about the people that represent this footy club at the moment, but I don't know … we'll find out a little bit about ourselves, because that was as bad as it gets."

Collingwood quite simply got smashed by North Melbourne.

It lost the inside 50 count by 28 entries, had 14 fewer scoring shots and – in reality – was lucky the margin was only 44 points when the final siren put the Pies out of their misery.

"We're embarrassed by that performance," Buckley said.

"That's as big a shellacking in general play that you'll see in a game of footy.

"The white flag went up from us. If you look at all of the things that we value in the way we've gone about our footy, we didn't see it today at all. It's inexplicable, to be honest.

"It's not something we saw coming and it's not something we thought we were capable of."

While hesitant to single out individuals, Buckley questioned his team's physicality.

Beaten in both contested ball and clearances, North Melbourne's midfield – led by Ben Cunnington and Jack Ziebell – quickly overwhelmed its highly skilled opponents.

For the Collingwood coach, it was the most disappointing aspect of the defeat.

"It's the first time in a long time we've seen some average physical efforts," Buckley said.

"It was plain for all to see. There was one side that bodylined the ball and ran hard and straight. Then there was another side that got out of the way a few times.

"It's not easy to say, but it's the reality. There's a question that rightfully should be asked."

So, when seemingly everything goes wrong, what does a senior coach address first?

"The combative elements of the game," Buckley said.

"Tackling or being tackled … we couldn't find any time or space with our hands, so all credit to the pressure they put on, but we were missing a lot of targets and making it a hot potato.

"It was 'I feel a bit of pressure so here you go, look after this'. 

"We weren't looking out for each other. One of the things we've prided ourselves on as a group is being a third-man in to support, or making our teammates' jobs easier. We didn't do that at all tonight.

"You can lose a game of footy or you can't perform at your best, but you don't ever want to have your teammates question whether you have their back or not. Potentially, we can question that tonight. That's how poor a performance it was and how disappointed we are."

Critical of Brodie Grundy last week – something Buckley concedes was "out of character" – the Collingwood coach was apprehensive to single out any player performances.

However, he said finding a single display worthy of positive comment would be tough.

"It would be hard to find," Buckley said.

"We wouldn't have had many blokes that won their position tonight, I wouldn't have thought. It's pretty hard to find a winner at this point."