A LATE communication breakdown was a “significant factor” in Collingwood’s seven-point loss to Fremantle on Thursday night, Pies coach Nathan Buckley says.

Buckley wanted to make a tactical move to close down Fremantle’s extra defender with the game on the line but was unable get the message through.

Five talking points: Fremantle v Collingwood

“Structurally towards the end of the last quarter, really the last 15 minutes of the last quarter, we weren’t able to get clean communication to our on-field leaders to be able to square up numbers [in the forward line] which we thought was a significant factor in that last 15 [minutes],” Buckley said.

“Fremantle basically played seven (defenders) for the whole last quarter. We had a decision to make half way through that quarter whether to compromise our stoppage structure to fix that up. We were a little bit slow getting that done.

WATCH: Nathan Buckley's full media conference

“It is something we will look at in review because it clearly has an impact.”

Collingwood’s strong showing put them in calculations for a top-four spot at season’s end, but Buckley said he didn’t care what outsiders thought and the Pies hadn’t ”proven anything” in the tight loss.

“External opinion is quite fickle, we’ll be up or be down or be the best or be the worst but internally on our measures and on the way we went about it, we think we are tracking in the right direction,” he said.

“We are going about our footy the right way and we forced a pretty good side to dig deep to get a win.

“When they play in games like that they learn a bit about themselves, about the club they are involved in, about the AFL and the standard that is expected.

“We thought pretty much to the man we stood up and gave great effort.”

But the challenges will come thick and fast for the Pies now, with games against reigning premier Hawthorn, Port Adelaide away, and West Coast in the next three rounds.

However, the draw opens up a bit from there until they head to the SCG in round 20 to take on the Sydney Swans.

Buckley was very happy with the brand of football the team was developing.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t get the ultimate reward but there’s plenty of reward that still comes from this evening,” Buckley said.

“For the players and the club and potentially the supporters to understand that they’ve got a group of young men, young leaders they can be proud of and that when they turn up and watch a game of footy we are going to play the way we play.

“There’s plenty to take out of it … we didn’t get the points and we move on to Hawthorn next week (Friday night at the MCG).”