JORDAN Roughead's switch to attack on Saturday is part of Collingwood's effort to "learn" about itself in the remaining rounds before finals, coach Nathan Buckley says.
The commentary about Mason Cox's form was swiftly replaced with who would take his spot up forward once a torn retina in his left eye confirmed the end of his season at the start of the week.
Roughead's been a revelation down back for the Magpies this season since crossing from the Western Bulldogs, but he performed Cox's role in the 17-point defeat of Melbourne at the MCG.
He didn't kick a goal, won 11 possessions and had four hitouts spelling Brodie Grundy in the ruck, but Buckley was "encouraged" with what he saw.
"There are some good numbers there. Only a couple of times the ball was marked off our kicks in our forward 50, and that's not the be-all and end-all, but that's part of it," Buckley told reporters.
"We had 18 forward-50 tackles, so the balance was OK. We didn't quite hit the scoreboard as much as we would have liked, but well enough, efficiently enough.
"We butchered some chances early, but I was encouraged enough by that, with 'Roughy', and we'll use that as a learning tool and work out whether that's the best mix.
"We know that he' going to be very good for us behind the ball if required, but we also think it's pretty important to have a couple of tall targets up front to structure up our forward line."
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Part of Buckley's decision-making will be based on what Collingwood loses in defence in Roughead's absence, and he will use "real experience and data" to weigh that up.
"The back seven we had today gave us really good aerial cover, although we probably lost our first four or five one v ones in our forward 50," the coach said.
"That was largely off our inability to defend the ground. Melbourne got around us a few times. But I thought for the most part, the back seven we had were able to compete aerially and then get the job done on the ground.
"We allowed only 30 inside 50s in the first three quarters, so we were defending quite well and the backs had a fair bit to do with that."
The Pies have now dispatched the AFL's bottom sides, Gold Coast and Melbourne, in consecutive weeks after losing four of their previous five games.
The final margin flattered the Demons, who kicked the last four goals after falling 42 points behind early in the final term.
"We were able to play the way we wanted to play for the most part," Buckley said.
"We look at Melbourne's players and the talent they have at their disposal, look on paper, and you think, they're a challenge, so we understood this game wasn't going to win itself.
"We had to really grind that out in the second and third quarters … but the players themselves have already highlighted a few learnings in that last quarter that we can take with us, so it was a pretty valuable game."
Josh Daicos (concussion) will be monitored throughout the next week before Collingwood makes a judgment on his availability against Adelaide next Saturday.
The Magpies will likely regain Jaidyn Stephenson (suspension), Jordan De Goey (hamstring), Darcy Moore (hamstring) and James Aish (shoulder) in the coming weeks, but there is still doubt about Daniel Wells (knee).
Wells fell narrowly short of resuming in the VFL this weekend and his next chance at state league level isn't for another fortnight.
"I get asked about it quite a bit, and we love the bloke. The contribution he's been able to make to us – if he gets up, he gets up, if he doesn't, he doesn't," Buckley said.
"But to be in the position he is at the moment is remarkable. There are still a few hurdles for him to jump.
"I'd say it's more unlikely than likely, but that's not taking it off the table, because he's still got to find out where he can get to as well in the next few weeks."