NATHAN Buckley has challenged Collingwood to play "unconditional" football in its final two games of the season, saying his team simply stopped working in the last 20 minutes of its 91-point loss to Richmond on Saturday.
Despite the lopsided final margin at the MCG, the Pies fared well in many of the statistical counts, winning the inside 50s 58-49 and tackles 63-56, and narrowly losing contested possessions 130-133 and clearances 31-36.
But after going into three-quarter time 44 points down, the Magpies conceded nine of the last 10 goals.
Buckley said after the game that the Pies seemed to hit "a breaking point" in the final term where they stopped trusting their team plan and each other.
"We went away from the way we wanted to play and then we turned into 22 individuals and not a team," Buckley said.
"It's just the players trying to make something happen because they don't trust what we've gone in with, and I think that's where the effort drops off.
"What we saw in that last 20 minutes was a culmination of the day where we weren't rewarded for what we were doing.
"But the other thing is it's a culmination of a season of effort unrewarded and there was a breaking point and to me that's what that last 20 minutes was.
"It's not us, it's not acceptable. We need to be better and cleaner to take advantage of the opportunities that we create."
Collingwood entered Saturday's game with a mathematical chance of making the top eight, but the Tigers officially snuffed out that faint hope, pushing the Pies down to 12th on the ladder.
Although understanding his players no longer had the "carrot" of finals to motivate them, Buckley said they had to "stay the course" in their remaining clashes against Geelong and Essendon.
"We've got eight quarters of football left in our season and we'll use it to try and improve, to play closer to our best footy and to maintain a really consistent effort around that," Buckley said.
"We were disappointed not to see that at the end of the game today. We lowered our colours today against our own standards, not necessarily against the opposition or against the competition.
"We want to be an unconditional footy team that plays its best football regardless of what's (riding) on it or what's not (riding) on it, whether it's a NAB Cup game, an early home and away game, a late home and away game, a final.
"We've got to be an unconditional side and we're still learning to do that."
Levi Greenwood's tagging job on Tigers skipper Trent Cotchin was one of the few positives to come out of the loss for Collingwood.
The former Kangaroo has had a tough first season with the Magpies after suffering a serious ankle injury in the pre-season, but his ability to keep Cotchin to just 13 possessions in his sixth game for his new club was encouraging.
"Levi was one of the few boys who put his hand up at the end of the game and said that he put up a four-quarter effort," Buckley said.
"It's been a frustrating year for him, missing the first half through injury and an up-and-down return through the second half.
"But we set him for these three weeks to really finish off the season strongly and give himself the best chance of taking something out of the year."