Collingwood’s mojo is back following their demolition of Essendon, but their swagger will soon turn into a limp if recent history is anything to go by.
The pressure on coach Nathan Buckley eased significantly on Monday when the Magpies pounded Essendon by 69 points in the Anzac Day clash at the MCG.
But Collingwood are in danger of getting a harsh dose of reality when they confront West Coast at Domain Stadium on Sunday.
The Eagles have turned their Subiaco home ground into a fortress over the past 18 months, winning 17 of their 19 games there.
The only losses in that period came against last year’s minor premiers Fremantle, and three-peat champions Hawthorn.
Collingwood haven’t won in Perth since beating Fremantle there in 2011, and they will need a near miracle to avoid another bruising defeat.
West Coast haven’t just won in Perth – they’ve regularly crushed their opponents.
This year alone, Brisbane (44-point loss), Fremantle (33), and Richmond (68) have all been well beaten.
Last season, St Kilda (95), Gold Coast (92), GWS (87) and Geelong (56) copped big hammerings.
But even finals sides like the Bulldogs (77), Sydney (48), and Adelaide (56) have felt the bruising agony of fort Domain.
Collingwood’s task of winning became harder when star midfielder Taylor Adams (knee) and Travis Varcoe (hamstring) were forced out.
Tom Langdon, Tim Broomhead, and Ben Sinclair were recalled, with James Aish dropped.
Buckley opted against recalling out-of-form forward Travis Cloke for the trip west, but American recruit Mason Cox will play again after booting a goal and taking three marks in his AFL debut last week.
“It’s exciting for competition for someone like that to come from where he has and deliver on a really big stage in his first game,” Eagles coach Adam Simpson said.
“I’m sure that’s part of the energy and excitement they’re building on this week.”
Simpson considered making several changes in the wake of last week’s 39-point loss to Sydney, but in the end made just one – dropping Fraser McInnes for ruckman Scott Lycett, who is back from suspension.
Simpson wants his team to make more of their chances, especially when the ball goes inside their 50m arc.
“We’re almost the best in the comp over the last couple of years at converting an inside 50 into a score,” Simpson said.
“But we went at 24-25 per cent strike rate (last week). We normally go above 50.
“I need to see it as a pattern before I panic too much.”