Carlton coach Mick Malthouse believes his side are primed to snare a major AFL scalp after too many near misses and honourable defeats this season.
After conceding the first five goals at a sodden SCG on Friday night, the Blues fought back and reduced the gap to seven points early in the final quarter.
But, as was the case against Hawthorn in their previous start, Carlton failed to lift that extra level when the contest was on the line and they suffered a 22-point loss to Sydney.
It was the Blues’ heaviest defeat this season, suggesting Malthouse has added a competitive streak if nothing else in his first year at the helm.
Malthouse lamented his side’s “endeavour was there, but the execution should have been better”. But the three-time premiership mentor took solace in the fact his charges had thoroughly tested the likes of premiership favourites Sydney, Hawthorn and Geelong this season.
“We’ve played some good sides (and) they have got over the line, but I think it would be fair to say that each of those sides had to be at full tilt to beat us,” Malthouse said.
“We will draw blood at some stage against one of these good sides, and that will give us a good lift in confidence.
“(Against Sydney) we would have learned a bit more about wet-weather football. We learn from each game, so this game will hold us in good stead for next week, and the week after and the week after that.
“Our ambition is to make sure we proceed, get better. And I think we are. I think we’re a better side than what we were at the start of the year.”
Carlton remain ninth on the ladder, with a 6-7 record, and next face Collingwood at the MCG on Friday night.