THERE were no outward signs on Friday that David Teague is preparing for the most important game of his brief coaching career so far.
Given Carlton's prolonged period of ineptitude, Sunday's clash with arch rival Collingwood is arguably as meaningful as any other between them in the past decade.
The disappointment is the match is being played at the Gabba, but it's otherwise of huge importance to both clubs as they chase a finals spot in what promises to be a fascinating run home.
It's also the first time Teague will coach against the Magpies, although he almost went out of his way to play down the significance of the contest.
SLIDING DOORS What's Damian Barrett saying about your club?
"I get it, the tradition, the rivalry, but we live in the now, to be honest," Teague said.
"So right now, we have a game to prepare for and we played some OK footy last week (against Gold Coast).
"We've got to get better, we've got to improve and we've done that this week. We've worked hard on it and I look forward to seeing how we execute and play our way on the weekend."
The 11th-placed Blues could even be inside the top eight by round's end if they defeat Collingwood and other results go their way.
They likely need to win at least three out of their five remaining matches, against the Magpies, Giants, Swans, Crows and Lions, to feature in the post-season.
THE LADDER Where is your team sitting?
"We have to keep winning to make it, and that's what we go out there to do – is to win games of footy," Teague said.
"Right now, we believe in the team we have, we believe in the way we play and we need to go out there and execute – and that's what we plan to do this weekend."
Matthew Kennedy (quad) and David Cuningham are in contention to return, while Teague said Mitch McGovern (hamstring) was "thereabouts". Caleb Marchbank (soreness) won't play in the club's reserves scratch match on Friday.
Teague also gave little away when asked about AFL.com.au's story this week on his involvement with 'Coach Whisperer', Bradley Charles Stubbs.
"He contacted the club and wanted to have a chat. I've had two conversations with him," Teague said.
"Look, right now, we all understand we've had to lay off staff, so to be respectful to the people we've got at our footy club, we're not in a position to engage any further, but it was interesting.
"As a football club, we want to be curious (and) we want to learn. I really enjoyed the conversation we had and, look, it was an interesting article to come out after two conversations."