A DEFIANT David Teague remains steadfast in his belief that Carlton can overturn another rocky 0-2 start to the year, despite familiar failings reappearing in a shaky Blues outfit on Thursday night.
The club fell to its ninth consecutive 0-2 start to the season, succumbing to a demoralising 21-point defeat to its arch rivals Collingwood in a bitter early blow to its hopes of playing finals football this year.
The Blues conceded 16 goals and 26 scoring shots from just 48 entries at the MCG, allowing the Magpies to score far too easily in the game's early stages and once again leaving themselves with too much to do in the second-half.
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It continued a recognisable trend for Teague's Carlton side, who twice reduced significant deficits to just eight points on either side of half-time only to be unable to complete dramatic turnarounds on both occasions.
Although it left the Blues coach lamenting an early 30-point margin that would prove too difficult to overcome, it has not yet left the third-year coach without belief that the club can soon click into gear.
"I was frustrated with the way we started in terms of how easily they scored," Teague said afterwards.
"We want to play 120 minutes of perfect football. We understand that's not always going to be the case, but when we're not getting it right we're getting scored against right now. We need to stop that.
"We need to be a little bit stronger in some of the key moments, particularly around the ball and even just holding the ball in. There were a couple of times where we'd just been tackled and we let it out to the outside and they swooped and went forward. We didn't have prior, so we could've just hung onto the ball and been stronger in those areas.
"I have absolute belief in this group. We'll get there. I'm not going to lose any belief in this group. I think our fans would be frustrated and they're hurting in there. They're disappointed, we all are. But from a belief point of view, what we know we can do and we've got work to do. We've got a lot of work to do."
Having set itself the lofty goal of ending a seven-year finals drought this season, Carlton now faces an uphill battle to return to September after yet another winless start to its campaign.
But Teague doesn't believe that will necessarily put more pressure on the club to finally secure a maiden victory ahead of next Sunday's encounter with Fremantle at Marvel Stadium.
"We put pressure on ourselves every week," Teague said.
"We wanted to beat Richmond and we didn't. We wanted to beat Collingwood and we didn't. Next week it's Fremantle and we want to go out there and win.
"Like I said earlier, I believe in this group. Our coaches believe in this group. We know it will happen. But in terms of pressure, I think the players put more pressure on themselves and their performance than anyone.
"For us, that won't be an issue. It will actually be out there, being able to execute for 120 minutes. That's our area. We've got to continue to learn and grow, because we got scored against too easily early. There's one thing we need to work on. Finishing our work going forward, there's the other."
For Collingwood, the win provided a timely psychological boost for the club following a turbulent off-season and a disappointing round one defeat to the Western Bulldogs last Friday night.
According to coach Nathan Buckley, the side's ability to repel a series of prolonged Carlton attacking efforts in the first half was pivotal to its success in later withstanding any chance of a Blues fightback.
"We had narrow losses in our practice matches against Geelong and Richmond, but we didn't particularly well, and we didn't play particularly well last week," Magpies coach Nathan Buckley said.
"We think there's still so much growth on what we put forward tonight, but that was a more Collingwood performance in regard to our effort and our defensive shape.
"We've kicked 100 points and I know everyone will focus on personnel in front of the ball and ball use and offensive efficiency, but largely if you compete and defend well you're going to be able to get the ball back in some pretty damaging positions.
"In the first half, we were able to do that and we scored quite heavily as a result."
Jamie Elliott will undergo scans on his ankle after he landed awkwardly in a marking contest and was subbed out in the second quarter.