CARLTON coach Mick Malthouse says “guts and determination” were the catalyst to the Blues' drought-breaking win over the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium.
After another week of hefty media scrutiny on on-field leadership, the coach and the board, the Blues emerged the better team on Sunday for the first time this season.
Malthouse said media chatter was an "insignificant part" of what the club faced each week and he was more proud of his team for prevailing when having just one fit player on the interchange bench in the last quarter.
"I felt today we were mentally prepared and mentally strong when we needed to be and that may have been an offshoot of losing four [games], I'm not too sure. It's immeasurable," Malthouse said.
"My understanding of the game and sport in general is that if you lose games like this, it becomes a consolidation of the group and the mind, and today we were able to push through a good football side and a lack of rotation availability.
"I thought we showed a lot of 'G' and 'D' [guts and determination]."
Team effort and sticking closely to its strategies under pressure were other aspects that pleased Malthouse, in a game he described as possessing plenty of exhausting "ballistic" running.
He said he didn't move the game plan – "not one inch" – and that less turnovers and more opportunities taken were the differences this week.
The majority of Carlton's 18 goals came from marks, something else that has been lacking this year.
He said Jarrad Waite, who took eight marks and kicked three goals, had responded to his omission last week as expected by teaming up strongly with his other co-forwards.
"It's handy when you've got three forwards that can actually catch the football," he said.
"That builds confidence in itself because players look at it and think we can give it to Waite, [Lachie] Henderson and [Levi] Casboult and they can mark the football and if they don't, they'll give us a good contest, which we needed.
"I think that's a lesson for Jarrad. It's not about just kicking goals, it's about the pressure you can apply to the opposition.
"It's been a good lesson and I think he's rebounded like you expect a very solid citizen to do."
Malthouse said Robbie Warnock's 38-hit-out game against All Australian Will Minson was the best game he had seen the Carlton ruckman play.
He also conceded the testing time for any club was when it wasn't winning and was pleased with the way the Blues had come through the past month.
"Our football department is as strong as I've seen any football department and the most important thing about a football department is trust," he said.
"When you've got that trust, it builds loyalty and when you've got loyalty to each other, not just one person, it gives you great satisfaction to know that you can turn up on Monday and you've got everyone on board, win lose or draw."