GOLD Coast coach Rodney Eade has described Gary Ablett's quiet return to football as "just a bad day", dismissing concerns the star midfielder was still hampered by his reconstructed left shoulder.
Ablett had just 19 possessions in Saturday's loss to Melbourne, riding a number of crunching tackles from opponent Jack Viney, who took the points in a run-with role.
The skipper did kick brilliant back-to-back goals in the fourth quarter to keep his team in the contest, but he didn't lay a tackle and fumbled in the goalsquare at a critical moment when another opportunity presented.
"I think Gary just had a bad day," Eade said post-match. "He wouldn't have gone out if he wasn't fine, so he's OK.
"It was probably epitomised with that handball from Harley (Bennell) in the goalsquare.
"It didn't hit him perfectly, but you think he'd be able to snaffle that at his best.
"It puts us one or two goals down and it ends up being a three-goal turnaround … so it was a pivotal moment."
The Suns were beaten in the tackle count (53-66) and the contested ball (137-150), with Eade at a loss to explain the drop in workrate.
He said there was a "pattern that may be emerging" where the young Suns took their foot off the pedal whenever they gained the momentum.
"It's not an easy statement, but a lot of them didn't seem as if they'd turned up," he said.
"Maybe they thought it was just going to happen, I'm not too sure.
"Talent and potential are always dangerous words. You need to be able to work consistently, you can't just do it in fits and starts.
"At some stage that talent and potential that we tend to give young people, or that latitude of inconsistency, that runs out."
The Suns regain young key forward Tom Lynch for next Saturday's clash against St Kilda after he served a one-match suspension.
Tall forwards Sam Day and Dan Gorringe combined for three goals on Saturday, and Eade said the Suns needed to improve their ball-use going inside 50.
"At times we're not a great kicking side, and I think at times we tried to pinpoint the perfect pass," he said.  
"We had good match-ups forward of the ball and we didn't take that.
"There were some old habits of going to the pocket or going wide, which was disappointing."