MELBOURNE coach Simon Goodwin blasted his side's execution as "not to AFL standard" as the Demons left their finals hopes hanging by a thread on Thursday night.
Goodwin's side was swamped by a hungrier Sydney outfit in Cairns and now needs to win its remaining three games against Fremantle, GWS and Essendon to control its own finals destiny.
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The Demons failed to capitalise on the wind advantage in the first quarter before coughing up five unanswered goals to the Swans in the second term.
"Sydney were really good, they came, they hunted, they had good pressure, but our ability to win critical contests in the first half (let us down)," Goodwin said.
"We got outworked and our execution wasn't to AFL standard and we paid the price for that in the first half.
"We're still right in the mix but we've got to play better. We can't have games or halves where it's non-existent and that's what we had today."
Injury concerns to Nathan Jones (quad) and Angus Brayshaw (foot) will need to be monitored into Monday's clash with the Dockers off a four-day break.
Swans coach John Longmire praised his midfield unit for responding to last week's lacklustre first half against ladder leaders Port Adelaide.
Veterans Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker starred at the clearances and allowed Swans runners Nick Blakey, Jordan Dawson and Justin McInerney to dominate on the outside.
"This week there were some areas we took out of that that we needed to improve, particularly our midfield and we certainly improved that this week," Longmire said.
"Tactically we were able to execute what we wanted to do, but it was always off a foundation of a really start to the game.
We had 21 tackles in the first quarter against the wind and that helped because we didn't want to be on the back foot."
Callum Sinclair will need to be assessed after he "wrenched" his knee in the dying stages but Longmire was confident his ruckman's injury wasn't overly serious.
Defender Callum Mills is a chance to return for Tuesday's clash with Carlton off a five-day break after withdrawing late with a minor calf strain.