In this week's Nine things we learned, we discover that the last year's Grand Finalists are teetering on the edge, words won't cut it at Collingwood and a Port cult figure lives up to the hype. 

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The 10: Round four's best moments

Watch all the best highlights from a fantastic round four

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1. The Cats are running out of lives

Geelong coach Chris Scott is confident his side was in a more precarious position after last year's 2-2 start than this season's, but nevertheless the Cats find themselves in a sticky situation. Last year's runners-up failed to lead for a single second in a dismal defeat to Melbourne on Sunday, having been comprehensively beaten in a number of key indicators including inside 50s (-12), contested ball (-20) and clearance (-10). Having been upset by Adelaide, the benefactors of a fortunate last-minute decision against Brisbane and held on for dear life against Hawthorn last week, Geelong could realistically be in a far worse position than simply 2-2. The impending return of superstar duo Patrick Dangerfield and Jeremy Cameron from injury ahead of next week's clash with North Melbourne will help, but it won't turn the tide completely. Is it a case of deja vu for the 2020 Grand Finalists, who turned their season around emphatically last year, or are these problems facing Scott a real threat to Geelong's campaign? - Riley Beveridge

2. Collingwood needs to follow through on its vow for changes

The Magpies faced an off-season of admissions that they needed to change off the field after the release of the club's Do Better report. But the focus is now on the field, and it is clear there needs to be a significant shift there as well if Collingwood is going to return to the finals this season. Their dispiriting defeat to the Giants on Saturday night showed up a stagnant midfield and once again left questions on Collingwood's forward line structure. That's not to mention the ball movement (they had more inside 50s but lost by five goals), nor the inability to get the most out of star ruckman Brodie Grundy's influence. Coach Nathan Buckley flagged post-game the club was ready for change – be it gameplan, personnel or preparation – and it will require a mix to get the Magpies humming before they leave themselves too much to do in 2021. - Callum Twomey

3. Dan Butler is key to St Kilda's fortunes in 2021

While Max King's five-goal performance against West Coast on Saturday was impressive, it was the efforts of fellow forward Dan Butler that most inspired St Kilda's incredible comeback. The Saints looked down for the count in the third term, until Butler came alive and kicked two goals in quick succession to kickstart the St Kilda resurgence. He finished with 3.2 and 16 disposals in a performance reminiscent of his 2020 season, which saw Butler named in the 40-man All-Australian squad. After a poor start to the year, this was a much-needed confidence boost for Butler, who has shown himself to be a barometer for the Saints. He will need to continue this strong form if the Saints are going to return to finals in 2021. - Luke Michael 

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Butler's class finishes silky St Kilda chain

Dan Butler snaps nicely after the Saints thread the needle from the throw in

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4. Port first-gamer's talent matches his cult status

All eyes were on Port Adelaide debutant Lachie Jones, the 19-year-old with the strength and size of a player seven years older and an iconic mullet to match. The AFL has seen its share of flash-in-the-pan cult heroes, but last year's pick 16 in the NAB AFL Draft has the talent to back it up. Playing off half-back against Richmond on Friday night, the courageous Jones charged out of the blocks in a frantic opening but settled as the game progressed. He read the play well and was comfortable coming off his opponent, recording 17 disposals, eight intercepts and six marks - Sarah Black

5. New challenge awaits young Docker Brayshaw 

Andrew Brayshaw's first challenge this season was to become a goalkicking midfielder. When he showed he could do that with two goals and 32 possessions in round two, the taggers came and his second challenge started. Coaches and their taggers smell blood in the water when a young midfielder shows he is susceptible to close attention, and the Sharks are circling Brayshaw. After Carlton's Ed Curnow kept him to 19 possessions in round three, Hawthorn's James Worpel has sent to clamp the tough Docker on Sunday, holding him to three first-half possessions and forcing him to drift forward. Brayshaw went away from his natural game and got frustrated early in the third quarter, giving away a free kick off the ball and a goal. Talented and committed to his craft, Brayshaw will emerge as a midfielder who can handle a tag. But his ability to do it now is sure to be tested by opponents in the coming weeks. - Nathan Schmook

6. Carlton's key defenders are as good as any

Although stiffer tests await Jacob Weitering and Liam Jones, Carlton's key defensive combination did another stellar job against Gold Coast on Saturday night. Weitering kept young gun Ben King quiet, while Jones patrolled the air with aplomb, hauling in 10 marks of the slippery Sherrin like it was a dry night. The pair gathered an incredible 25 intercept possessions between them and gave the Suns little chance. They must surely now be one of the best duos in the competition and will get another good test against Port Adelaide's tall timber at the MCG next Saturday night. - Michael Whiting

Carlton's Jacob Weitering spoils the ball against Gold Coast's Ben King in round four on April 10, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

7. Dogs add some steel to their midfield silk

Before their round four win over Brisbane, the Western Bulldogs had amassed 99 tackles for the season. They added another 81 in their brutal, brilliant victory over their fellow top-four hopeful in a sign that this incarnation of the Dogs is assembling the tools to mount a serious flag charge. Josh Dunkley (eight tackles) and Tom Liberatore (five) have built their games on strength at the stoppages but to see notional outside runners Lachie Hunter (a career-high 10) and Adam Treloar (also 10) join that pair was proof the message about two-way football is ingrained in the unbeaten Bulldogs. - Michael Rogers  

8. The Crows' kids are going to be all right

While Taylor Walker is rightfully taking most of the plaudits for the Crows' fast start this season, the contribution from a host of Adelaide's youngsters should not go unnoticed. Lachie Sholl picked up 31 disposals in the victory against the Kangaroos on Sunday and will be in the frame for a second NAB AFL Rising Star nomination this week, while the likes of Harry Schoenberg (20 disposals, two goals against North), Will Hamill and Ned McHenry continue to add pace, aggression and energy. That Adelaide kicked away so authoritatively in the last quarter despite the absence of skipper Rory Sloane was testament to the growing maturity of Matthew Nicks' next generation. - Jonathan Healy

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Schoenberg salutes after two party goals

Harry Schoenberg ends his game with two consecutive goals, as the Crows overrun the Roos comfortably in the last

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9. These baby Bombers won't be easy beats

Things were looking grim at Tullamarine after Essendon blew a 39-point half-time lead against Hawthorn, then was thrashed by Port Adelaide as it lost Dylan Shiel, Sam Draper and Jye Caldwell to serious injuries. But the Bombers bounced back to punish an out-of-form St Kilda and push arguably the competition's most in-form team in Sydney. The three-point loss to the Swans was no doubt disappointing, but another strong display from a young team that included 12 players with under 50 games experience suggests losses like the one to the Power will soon become the shock rather than wins like the one over the Saints. - Martin Pegan