The wounds from the last two AFL seasons have hardened up Collingwood, with coach Nathan Buckley upbeat about what lies ahead.
The Magpies were well-placed with 8-3 records in 2014 and ’15, only to fall away in the second half of the season and drop out of the top eight.
It means plenty of heat on Buckley in the last year of his contract, amid speculation that an extension is about to be signed.
Buckley said on Tuesday that all the top sides – Hawthorn, Geelong, Fremantle and Sydney – had gone through challenging seasons before hitting their peak.
“You might skin your knee and fall over and not quite get there,” he said.
“That callouses the mind, it callouses the body and the heart (to) some degree, to be able to be ready for your next challenge.
“I’d like to think that’s the position we’re in at the moment.
“It’s not easy, it’s not guaranteed and you still have to do the work.
“But I have no doubt that the experiences of the last 24 months for his playing group will hold them in good stead.”
Buckley said injuries were the key factor for the 2014 fade out, but put last year’s poor second half to the team not being able to win close games.
“We were a straight kick, a clean ground ball, a stuck tackle from being a 15-16 win season,” he said.
Collingwood’s NAB Challenge will start on Friday in Geelong.
Buckley said he is not worried about the pressure on him heading into such a big year.
“Every year is the most important year and every game is the most important game,” he said.
“There’s an expectation of performance in elite level employment, whether it’s sport or business or anything.
“I welcome that, I understand that.
“As a footy club, we’re just focussed on making sure we do the little things right … the results will invariably come.”
Buckley added Collingwood are confident, saying the quality of the players, coaches and the football program had improved year by year.