RICHMOND'S midfield aces are about to return from injury, but coach Damien Hardwick says his team can't rely on that to turn its wobbling season around.
The Tigers are now clinging to eighth place with a 5-5 record following their 28-point loss to Brisbane on Friday night.
However, the cavalry is on the way, with Hardwick confirming captain Trent Cotchin (hamstring) and Dion Prestia (calf) are all-but certain to return against Adelaide next week.
Shai Bolton (wrist) is "highly probable" and Shane Edwards – like the other three – will have to get through training on Saturday to be considered.
The Tigers need their A-grade midfield back after Brisbane pummelled them 51-25 at clearances.
A frustrated Hardwick said his team could not assume it would reverse its fortunes like it had done in previous years.
LIONS v TIGERS Full match coverage and stats
"We can't just rely on it to happen," he said.
"It's happened a couple of times before, but the fact of the matter is each year is different.
"We've got to play better.
"We've got to get our troops back on the park and we've got to start a run and that run hopefully starts next week.
"We've got to start playing a better brand of footy, we have to get our guys to connect because players have been in and out consistently throughout the year.
"It's going to take some time for us to be playing our best footy, so we've got to get started, absolutely."
Hardwick said Richmond fought well against one of the "form sides of the competition" but the weight of numbers was just too much.
"We expect to play better though," he said.
"There was some players and some system that we would like to get better in that situation, so we were disappointed."
Opposition coach Chris Fagan was all smiles after the Lions made it six straight wins though, saying he was most pleased by the even contribution of his team, particularly unheralded trio Rhys Mathieson, Deven Robertson and James Madden.
"Right now we are in a pretty nice little purple patch, but the minute you start giving yourself a pat on the back, you run the risk of that stopping," Fagan said.
"For a six-week patch, this is maybe the best we have played in terms of attack versus defence, and our contested ball numbers.
"They probably all look fairly impressive statistically anyway, but it feels that way.
"We are keeping teams to lowish scores, and scoring well ourselves.
"So, it is exciting that we are able to do that."