AT THE start of the last round of the inaugural NAB AFL Women's season, Collingwood was still in with a chance.
Albeit a very slim chance, one that was snuffed out on Saturday afternoon, when Melbourne easily beat Fremantle to keep its season alive.
The Pies take on Adelaide at Olympic Park Oval in Melbourne on Sunday, likely thinking about what might have been possible had they not started so slowly.
"We want to do everything we can to finish off the season strongly," coach Wayne Siekman said after the Pies' win against Greater Western Sydney.
Before the season kicked off, Siekman made the unusual choice of publicly declaring Collingwood's goal for the season.
Although the coaches of the seven other teams were quiet about their expectations, Siekman said the Pies intended to finish in the top two.
"Our plan from day one has been to make the Grand Final," he said.
"You can't win a premiership without making the Grand Final. That's the goal."
But just three weeks into the season, that goal looked unlikely.
By then, Collingwood had kicked only eight goals, with star recruit Moana Hope bagging just one. The Pies had lost to Carlton and Melbourne, before falling agonisingly short against the Lions, leaving them at the bottom of the ladder.
Yet after the Brisbane game, Siekman said he felt Collingwood's first win wasn't too far away.
"We just need to find that extra 5-10 per cent to get us across the line," he said.
And it was the next week against the Western Bulldogs that the Pies finally found that edge.
After another disappointing first half, capped off with a serious knee injury to rookie Kate Sheahan, the Pies came out and blasted the Bulldogs in the second half for their first win.
Despite the disastrous start, Collingwood players were still striving towards their goal, with midfielder Lauren Tesoriero telling collingwoodfc.com.au that the win meant the club still had "a mathematical chance" of making the Grand Final.
Knowing a loss would spell the end of their season, the Pies backed up their win with two more, over Fremantle and GWS, becoming the first Victorian team to pick up a win interstate along the way.
Despite being eliminated from premiership calculations on Saturday, the Pies will start the match with plenty of confidence and momentum.
The team, which relied too heavily on its stars early in the season, has seen a wide range of players stand up and contribute. In fact, only three Collingwood players (midfielder Alicia Eva, forward Sarah D'Arcy and defender Nicola Stevens) have averaged more than 10 disposals this season, although another 10 players average more than eight touches.
And while Hope is leading the Pies' goalkicking with five, despite regularly being double-teamed by opposition defenders, other forwards such as Jess Cameron and Jasmine Garner have hit the scoreboard, kicking four goals apiece.
Siekman said the improved performances from the Pies were due to players becoming more comfortable with being AFLW footballers.
"In the first couple of weeks, there was a lot of hype and pressure and we felt that," he said.
Last weekend's win over the Giants was the Pies' first 'true' home game at Olympic Park Oval, with their first two home games shifted to Carlton's Ikon Park due to the expected attendance.
"To get a win on our home deck was really clinical," Siekman said.
"We seemed more comfortable and relaxed."