Carlton hope the return of Chris Judd can save them from their worst start to an AFL season in 25 years.
The Blues have endured a torrid week after falling victim to Melbourne to extend their 2014 losing streak to four, with the Western Bulldogs intent on making it five on Sunday afternoon.
Should they do so, Carlton will be 0-5 for the first time since 1989.
Brownlow medallist Judd has been named for his first game of 2014 after recovering from an achilles injury in a huge boost for the Blues.
But behind the headline-claiming Carlton crisis story is a better story of hope – in the opposing changerooms.
The Western Bulldogs, for several years rare top-eight contenders, are quietly turning the corner.
Brendan McCartney’s side have a 9-9 record since halfway through last season and after wins over Richmond and GWS, have the chance to go 3-2 this year win victory over Carlton.
It would be first time the Bulldogs had won three straight for three years.
To beat the Blues, a defence missing Dale Morris (suspension) and Jordan Roughead (shoulder) will need to subdue Carlton’s forward line with the returning Jarrad Waite.
Step forward Easton Wood.
The running defender has been in career-best form this season after missing all but five games last year with hamstring injuries.
He’ll match that season tally on Sunday at Etihad Stadium and knows what to expect from Mick Malthouse’s team.
“Any team that’s been under the pump is going to come out pretty hard,” he said.
“We weren’t ruthless enough early (against GWS), there were a few lapses.”
Wood has sparkled this term with his run and carry and will again lead the Bulldogs’ thrust out of defence.
“We’re responsible for kick starting that ball movement,” he said.
“If we’re slow and conservative we won’t reap as many rewards.”
Carlton fans can emphasise with that statement – having watched their side slow the play down to get the ball out of defence – often turning it over.
But whether Malthouse is ready to adopt the Bulldogs’ more attacking style remains to be seen.