CARLTON remains winless in 2013 after suffering a 16-point loss to Geelong at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
It's the first time a Mick Malthouse-coached side has lost the first three games of a season since he led Footscray in 1987.
The Blues were dismantled in the third quarter and despite challenging in the last, fell short, going down 18.11 (119) to 15.13 (103).
"I think good sides last longer. They're a very good football side," Malthouse conceded.
"The three sides we've played have given us some food for thought. I'm not disappointed in the attitude or the effort. I think what we let ourselves down in is in five-to-seven minutes a quarter or half.
"That's what happened. The pattern has been over three games, we've just allowed the opposition to take a firm hold of those vital minutes.
"We'll get better because of it."
He was sent to hospital, and will miss up to eight weeks.
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The Cats suffered casualties too, forced to make an early substitution when they lost Travis Varcoe to a shoulder injury. He could miss 12 weeks
if surgery is required.
"It doesn't look good," Geelong coach Chris Scott said of the injury.
Forward Steve Johnson received a knock to his right knee, but fought on to play out the game.
After trailing by as much as 16 points in the first term, the Cats stormed home with four goals in a row to lead by eight at quarter-time.
Carlton responded after the change, with four unanswered goals to open up a 17-point lead, but the Cats found another gear yet again, kicking seven of the last eight goals to regain control.
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"We have a degree of confidence that when the game is on the line our guys would step up, but it would be foolhardy to expect we can do that every time against good opposition, which Carlton are," Scott said.
"We feel a little relieved they missed some of the shots they did."
In a crucial tagging job, Taylor Hunt shut down Marc Murphy in the first half, keeping him to 12 possessions. Hunt collected 10 touches, five tackles and three goals in the first half.
Andrew Walker cruised the back half, racking up 20 touches by the main change to lead the possession count. Walker was prolific for Carlton with a game-high 33 disposals while Andrew Carrazzo played a fine negating role on Cats skipper Joel Selwood.
Selwood could come under scrutiny from the Match Review Panel for slapping Zach Tuohy just before half-time, which resulted in a push and shove at the mainbreak.
The Cats were able to build a lead in the third quarter, but in the fourth, it was nailbiting.
The Blues fought back with the first four goals of the term, reducing the lead to just 10 points.
The Cats looked set to steady when Jimmy Bartel found Steve Johnson on a lead, but the ball was brought back after a streaker invaded the ground.
A Steven Motlop long bomb capped a strong performance and gave the Cats some breathing space before they holding on in the dying stages.
Mathew Stokes starred for the Cats with 30 touches and a goal, while Taylor Hunt and Tom Hawkins each kicked three majors.
Carlton is still yet to beat Geelong at Etihad Stadium.