When Nathan Buckley says it’s the toughest night at the office he can remember, you know it’s been an AFL shocker.
Captain Scott Pendlebury injured in the warm-up.
Dayne Beams with a suspected season-ending knee injury.
Key forward Travis Cloke off with an ankle injury before half-time, Jamie Elliot unable to play with hamstring tightness and Ben Reid injured – again – with a hamstring strain.
And a 67-point loss to a side beaten to the tune of 105 points last weekend.
“I have been in the caper 20 years now, as a player and coach, and I cant remember a night like it,” the Collingwood coach said.
“There are things outside of our control… but you don’t anticipate to get dealt a hand that we got dealt this evening.”
Buckley said at the elite level, teams need to be at the very top to compete.
Fall short, and this can be the result.
“We were the ones that broke tonight physically,” he said.
“I reckon we held on mentally for a while but by the end you are pushing the proverbial up hill with a pointy stick and it was tough going.
“It’s a snapshot of our whole season because too much has been left to too few, too often, due to not having available personnel.”
In his control or otherwise, Collingwood’s season has unravelled.
After their Queen’s Birthday defeat of Melbourne, the Magpies were fourth with an 8-3 record.
Just two wins in nine games later, Collingwood must now face missing the finals for the first time since 2005.
With matches against GWS and Hawthorn remaining, Buckley isn’t giving up on the fight just yet.
“When I say we’re still not out of it, I mean it because we can still win our last two games,” he said.
“We’re not going to just crawl meekly into the corner and not compete.”
Three goals to young forward Tim Broomhead and an encouraging display from Brodie Grundy were plucked out by Buckley as positives but his flat demeanour said it all.
“There wasn’t really a lot to hang our hats on to be honest.”