NORTH Melbourne's late-season surge could see them avoid the wooden spoon after dismantling an insipid Carlton by 39 points to make it three victories from their last four games.
After not winning until round nine, the Kangaroos have drawn level on 18 points with 17th-placed Hawthorn after putting away the dismal Blues at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.
North trailed by two points at half-time but blew the game open with seven goals to none in the third quarter as full-forward Nick Larkey starred to finish with a career-best seven-goal haul.
BLUES v ROOS Full match coverage and stats
Larkey was so dominant it forced Carlton to move star defender Jacob Weitering into the Blues' forward line in the last quarter.
Taking a match-winning 38-point lead into the final term, the Kangaroos ran out winners 18.8 (116) to 11.11 (77) to record their highest score since round nine, 2019.
Only percentage keeps North (4-13-1) on the bottom of the ladder after the wooden spoon appeared a mere formality for the Kangaroos a month ago.
After missing last week's loss against Essendon, veteran midfielder Ben Cunnington made a stunning return, and with Jy Simpkin, was crucial in North winning the clearances 42-27.
Tarryn Thomas continued his emergence with a career-best four goals.
As memorable as the win was for North, the result extinguishes any faint hope Carlton (7-11) had of making finals for the first time since 2013.
The Blues struggled without Coleman Medal leader Harry McKay, who withdrew from the match on Friday due to a toe injury.
Adding further insult to the dispiriting effort was high-priced recruit Zac Williams (hamstring) hobbled off and was subbed out for veteran Marc Murphy, who played his 297th career game.
There were some brief highlights for the Blues, with Ed Curnow kicking the best goal of his career in his 200th game and emerging ruckman Tom De Koning bringing down a Mark of the Year contender.
Veteran forward Eddie Betts spent almost 10 minutes being assessed in the rooms after falling heavily but was able to play out the game.
Larkey lights up Marvel
Nick Larkey has shown he can be the Roos' main man up forward with a superb individual performance. Matched up on star Blue Jacob Weitering, the 23-year-old was a constant threat throughout and got his reward with a career-high seven majors. Larkey is one of the best set shots in the League and took his season tally to 34.11.
Young guns go head-to-head
Sam Walsh came into this match as one of the form midfielders in the League and David Noble decided to send his own young star Jy Simpkin to the Blue. It wasn't a true hard tag as Simpkin still found plenty of the ball, but it was an intriguing matchup throughout the game. Walsh still finished with 27, but didn't have a massive impact on the game, while Simpkin picked up 31 himself to be the Roos' best.
Murphy's race to 300
Sitting at 296 games before this round, Marc Murphy needed to play four of the final matches to reach the magical 300 milestone. A calf injury threatened to derail his bid and when he was left out of the team named on Thursday night, it appeared unlikely he would get there. But he was named as the sub and came on at the start of the third quarter to replace Zac Williams. He finished with 10 disposals and one behind, but appears on track to reach 300 before the season finishes.
CARLTON 2.5 5.6 5.10 11.11 (77)
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.1 5.4 12.6. 18.8 (116)
Carlton: Cripps 3, Kennedy 2, Newnes 2, Owies, Martin, Curnow, Fisher
North Melbourne: Larkey 7, Thomas 4, Stephenson 3, Anderson 2, Goldstein, Zurhaar
Carlton: Newnes, Silvagni, De Koning, Walsh, Curnow, Cripps
North Melbourne: Simpkin, Larkey, Thomas, Stephenson, Cunnington, Hall,
Carlton: Williams (hamstring), Betts (ankle)
North Melbourne: Phillips (nose)
Carlton: Murphy (replaced Williams)
North Melbourne: Polec (replaced Phillips)