NORTH Melbourne will continue to place an emphasis on process over wins as it continues a rebuilding season under first-year coach David Noble.
The club is yet to secure its first victory of the season, but has a good chance to get a maiden win on the board when it faces a Collingwood side badly out of form at Marvel Stadium this Saturday.
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However, despite an improved performance against Melbourne last weekend and the horror 1-6 record of its upcoming opponents, Kangaroos coach Noble says the focus isn't solely on winning at this stage of the group's development.
"This is going to sound a little bit strange, but we're not chasing a win," Noble said.
"We're chasing process. We're hell-bent on growing, getting better and getting really consistent in our methodology around what that process looks like. We know if we get the process right, then the outcome delivers itself.
"If that's that we're in front at the end of the game, then that's great. But, for us at the moment, you can easily get caught up in that. We've got to have a really clear focus and parameters around what that process looks like, particularly for a younger group.
"Internally, our reward mechanisms are a bit different than the four points at the moment. For our members and our fans, it's not that we're not saying we want to win. We're going into every game planning to win the game, but you can easily get caught up in that."
North Melbourne is hopeful improved defender Aiden Bonar will recover from a corked thigh in time for this weekend's game, but experienced wingman Trent Dumont will continue his return from repeated calf injuries in the VFL.
Free agency recruit Aidan Corr has also started stationary work as he continues his rehab from an infected toe, though the club remains unclear on when the defender will return to senior action.
This week, Noble faces the unusual task of game-planning against his son – Collingwood defender John Noble – with the pair set to become just the third father-son duo in the history of AFL/VFL football to compete against each other on opposing sides.
"We don't live together, so that's made it a bit easier," Noble laughed.
"We caught up yesterday and we'll probably just down phones from today onwards, that's probably the fairest thing to do.
"We were doing a little bit of opposition preparation before and it's different, there's no doubt it's different. But we've really got to try and remove a bit of that emotion and just plan around what it is.
"He's one of the back-end players … and he just becomes another player once you get to this part of the week."
Saturday's clash also marks Jaidyn Stephenson's first game against his former side, with the North Melbourne midfielder making a high-profile move from Collingwood during last year's Trade Period.
Despite the emotion involved for Stephenson as he prepares to face the side where he won the NAB AFL Rising Star and played a key role in its journey to the 2018 Grand Final, Noble says he has not had to chat to the 22-year-old about his preparations.
"I haven't got that sense out of him in regard to whether he's needed that guidance or that hand at the moment," Noble said.
"In the next 24 or 48 hours, when we go through our normal preparation, I'll talk to him as a normal player.
"There's probably another emotion that goes in normally, if you're a little bit nervous or a little bit anxious as a player. That may build with Jaidyn, I don't know how he feels playing against his old team.
"But he's clearly moved on. He's playing some really good footy for us. We've settled him into a couple of different roles and we're looking forward to supporting him playing against his old team."