Nathan Buckley is confident he’s coaching a better Collingwood team than the 2014 version that threw away a hot start to the AFL season.
The Magpies are in the box seat to return to finals after beating Greater Western Sydney by 42 points at the MCG on Sunday.
Buckley’s men are fourth on the ladder, a game clear of the fifth-placed Giants.
Collingwood also started the 2014 season with an impressive 8-3 win-loss record, but faded after the bye and failed to make the finals.
“I don’t know if we’re playing better footy (compared to then),” Buckley said.
“But I think we’re a more mature group.
“We’re a better team and we’re a better club than we were 12 months ago.”
Buckley insisted nobody at the club was going to get too excited about Sunday’s result, the Pies’ final game before their mid-season bye.
“The environment around the place is really solid, we’re not getting carried away one way of the other,” he said.
“If we have a loss, it’s not the end of the world. If we have a win, we’re not the champions that everyone might tell us we are.
“We’re maintaining our composure well as an organisation and that’s going to stand us in good stead.”
Premiership favourites Fremantle and Sydney continued their strong starts to the season in round 11, but in contrasting fashion.
The ladder-leading Dockers managed just 6.17 (53) against cellar dwellers Gold Coast, but it was enough to get over the line by seven points at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.
The Dockers banked their 10th win, while the Swans shored up their hold on second spot with a ninth victory.
Sydney were regularly challenged by an impressive North Melbourne outfit, but prevailed by 16 points at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
In Saturday’s other match third-placed West Coast dismissed Essendon with ease, crushing the Bombers by 50 points.
The only concern for Eagles coach Adam Simpson was Jeremy McGovern’s corked thigh, with the defender in doubt for Friday night’s clash with Richmond at the MCG.
Rebounding defender Xavier Ellis, who returned from injury against the Bombers, could also miss the match against the Tigers depending on how the match review panel assess the way he slid into a contest.
“I think he’s got a case to answer to it’s not what you want to see,” Swans legend Jude Bolton told Seven’s Game Day.
Meanwhile, Geelong moved to within striking distance of the top eight with their 23-point win over Port Adelaide on Friday night.