A SLUMP, a dip, a drop or whatever you want to call it – Geelong coach Chris Scott isn't concerned about the Cats' form line as the finals draws closer.
The Cats suffered their third loss in their past five games with a 24-point defeat to Hawthorn on Sunday. It means Geelong's hold on top spot on the ladder has narrowed to one game with five rounds left to play in the home and away season.
The results following Geelong's round 13 bye have seen the club's scoring drop to an average of 70 points, well down on their 93-point average for the year overall, and they were held to just eight goals against the Hawks in perfect conditions at the MCG.
Scott said the Cats' ability to bank wins in the first half of the season had given them some room for a scratchy patch of form, but remained confident they have time to get back up and going.
HAWKS UPSET CATS Full match coverage and stats
"It's a long time until the finals, and we've got to keep reminding ourselves of that. It's not as if we're on the eve of the finals," he said post-game.
"I'd prefer it now, than to be out of contention at the halfway point of the season, so getting wins on the board has its advantages. We feel as if we're not playing our best but we've got time to arrest that.
"Is it a slump? I can't really think of anyone on the top of my head who hasn't gone through their ebbs and flows throughout the season and we're clearly one of them, even though we sit on top of the ladder.
"But I think the ladder is deceiving. You'd be much better served looking at the previous couple of weeks and basing your forecasts on that form as opposed to the previous 15 or 16 weeks."
Scott said he didn't believe the Cats "played very well" against the Hawks, despite some adjustments in the third quarter seeing them get within 11 points and win back momentum.
However, four late misses – all of which were considered straightforward – were costly in their pursuit of the Hawks. Scott said it was fair to suggest his side was too 'safe' with the ball.
"We certainly felt like that in the box, so I can understand why everyone else felt it as well," he said.
"We didn't put them under enough pressure and they were able to get some pressure on us. We didn't ask enough questions of their defence. That did shift a little bit in a second half, and we looked like getting some traction there, but we couldn't finish the job."
The Cats travel to Sydney next week to face the Swans at the SCG, and Scott said they wouldn't be writing off the loss to the Hawks as an anomaly.
"I don't think we'll go away and think 'We're hopeless and we need to throw out the way we play and try a whole heap of new personnel' but at the same time we're not going to say 'It's just one of those weeks, don't worry about it, when the real stuff comes around we'll hit our straps'," he said.
"That would be a big mistake, too."