What more do North Melbourne need to do to prove their AFL premiership credentials?
At 8-0, they’ve answered every challenge this season so far and then some, and sit on top of the AFL ladder as a result.
Most bookmakers have North Melbourne on the fifth or sixth line of betting for the flag despite their perfect start to the AFL season.
That’s behind GWS Giants – a side that has never played in a final, let alone won one – and West Coast, which hasn’t won in their last six trips outside Perth.
North’s last-gasp win over St Kilda in round seven and a second-half fade-out against Essendon on Saturday might have some doubting their abilities against tougher opponents.
But to defender and club leader Jamie Macmillan it’s unfair criticism, saying the club had gained an ability to hang on in tight contests.
“Last year we would have been four and four,” he told AAP.
“We’ve had a couple of close games, we’re not playing our best footy.
“At the end of the day, we’re getting Ws in the column and you can’t do more than that.”
Against the Bombers, Macmillan was part of a team defence that restricted them to just four behinds at half-time, Essendon’s worst tally in 101 years.
The Bombers came out firing after half-time, turning a 52-point deficit to a 14-point defeat, but Macmillan agreed with coach Brad Scott’s assessment that the game never got out of hand.
“We sang the song and we were straight in with the coach,” he said.
“We just said it’s not how we want to play our footy. It’s not what we want to be known for.
“Once we’ve got a side on the ropes we’ve just got to finish them off.
“Sometimes you need a wak- up call just to reinforce things aren’t cherry ripe.
“At least we can get the wake-up call and still get away with a win.”
The Kangaroos will get a chance to jump to 9-0 on Saturday night against a depleted Carlton.
Whatever happens, they’ll be ahead of chief executive Carl Dilena’s own expectations.
“At the start of the season and looked at the draw, I thought 7-2 would be the pass mark,” he told ABC radio.
“It’s a fantastic time at the club. There’s great excitement around the club and we’re trying to embrace that.
“But we have got a tough second half of the draw.”