Just when you though Gold Coast might have turned the corner.
The Suns showed few vital signs at Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon, helping Essendon earn their second AFL win of the season and their first triumph in 18 matches.
Even for a side that specialises in false dawns, this was a spectacular letdown.
Gold Coast had impressed in recent weeks, claiming three wins in their past six and meritorious losses to Melbourne and Greater Western Sydney.
But there was no fluency in their play against the Dons, who ran harder and wanted the premiership points more.
Coach Rodney Eade said the actions of a few went against the game plan.
“Today there were a lot of individuals that wanted to do their own thing,” he said.
“Not kicking to right spots. Not picking the right options. Doing their own thing, which is probably the most disappointing part.
“We didn’t think our pressure was up to our normal standard, which is again a mental aspect.
“Some players just wanted to be individuals.”
Eade didn’t mention his worst offenders, but a few glaring performances stood out.
Jarrod Garlett’s petulance to kick the ball away and earn a 50-metre penalty cost his side a goal.
Aaron Hall’s contest was lacking on occasions, while Eade said a message to get defender Steven May to keep running with Joe Daniher “didn’t get through”.
Eade suggested he would drop players if he could.
“I haven’t got many coming back … there’s not much we can do at selection unfortunately,” he said.
Two fourth-term rushed behind decisions that went against his side also baffled Eade, who said they were “definite free kicks”.
The 16th-season coach maintained he would be feeling as frustrated even if they’d won off the back of those decisions.
“If we managed to get up and win I’d still be feeling the same because our performance was still as it was,” he said.
However, there was praise for Touk Miller, who enjoyed his best AFL performance with 39 touches and a goal.
“He was one player that worked both ways,” Eade said.
“He’s a bona fide midfielder for us and no matter who we’ve got in the midfield next year he’ll be one of the starting four.”