GEELONG coach Chris Scott has batted away the "superficial" and "cheap" suggestion spending a week in Perth wasn't ideal preparation for Saturday's 34-point loss to Fremantle.
The League leaders have been dragged closer to the chasing pack after their fourth loss in seven games, with West Coast and Brisbane now chances to move level on 14 wins after round 20.
After seemingly steadying the season in Sydney last round, the Cats were in cruise control early on Saturday with spearhead Tom Hawkins (three goals) in imposing form.
Tom Hawkins started on fire, although he struggled with the high-fives. Picture: AFL Photos
But from 15 points up at the first change they let the Dockers get on top, with the home side booting 12 of the last 16 majors.
Speaking post-game, Scott defended Geelong's preparation and said it was no excuse for tailing away at Optus Stadium.
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"I think it's a really superficial and cheap analysis to say 'well, it was only a good idea if you win both of the games'," Scott said.
"And even then, we played pretty well in Sydney. Again, you open yourself up to those accusations - no one has got more information than us.
"We were really confident in our preparation and we don't make excuses.
"The summary is we had control of the game in the first quarter and the disturbing thing is, it looked, besides the specifics of the game, we open ourselves up to the accusation that we thought it might be an easy day.
"Had control (and) went away from the way we wanted to play."
Despite Geelong's stark drop in form after an 11-1 start to the campaign, Scott was confident his charges had time to rediscover their best before finals.
"Of course we can. Is it a concern? There is an easy answer to that question," he said.
"We would like to be playing better.
"We played pretty well for three quarters last week and the first quarter was pretty good today. It's not as if we're just in a huge hole or anything like that.
"We had some individuals who have played at a really high level this year, who just didn't have good days."
Scott downplayed concerns over Gary Rohan's minor knee injury after the speedster limped from the field in the third term and didn't return.
"Medical staff couldn't convince us it wouldn't jeopardise the next week or two for him, so we made the call swiftly (to keep him off)," Scott said.
The Cats have been managing players on the run home to have them cherry-ripe for finals and Scott said that plan wouldn't change, despite a tricky run home.
WATCH Chris Scott's full post-match media conference
They host North Melbourne, travel to Brisbane and then welcome Carlton to GMHBA Stadium over the last three rounds and are now in a battle to hold onto a top-two spot.
"I wouldn't like to give the impression that we have been taking liberties," Scott said.
"It's not as if we have been taking out a big group of players and saying 'we don't mind if we lose these ones because of our ladder position’, we know we're in a scrap."