Geelong coach Chris Scott admits they are suddenly a shadow of the team tipped to contend for the AFL premiership.
Carlton were outstanding on Sunday, harassing and outworking the Cats for a 19-point upset win at Etihad Stadium.
The stunning 16.8 (104) to 12.13 (85) result is the first time in 15 matches that the Blues have beaten Geelong at the venue.
More worryingly for the Cats it was also their second poor game in as many weeks, following last weekend’s upset loss to Collingwood.
Carlton won despite losing captain Marc Murphy and Liam Sumner in the first quarter to ankle injuries.
Blues pair Matthew Kreuzer and Levi Casboult also returned for this match from leg injuries, weeks ahead of schedule.
Scott blasted his players at quarter time on Sunday and also did not hold back post-match.
“We, right at the moment, are a shadow of the team we were even three weeks ago,” Scott said.
“The fundamentals were really poor.”
Scott admitted to concern about livewire forward Steven Motlop, whose form has dipped sharply.
The coach noted Motlop had a 0-5 free kick count in his duel with Zac Tuohy.
“He has played some exhilarating football this year and now he has had two bad ones in a row … I have got a few specific ideas around how we can help him,” Scott said.
While he did not want to go into the specifics of what suddenly has gone wrong, Scott pointed out that the Cats suddenly are not so hard to score against.
Notably, Carlton kicked 12.5 from turnovers.
Scott added Geelong might be slightly underdone, given they have come off two eight-day breaks.
But he added they would not throw out the baby with the bathwater.
“I’m really confident we didn’t get carried away with how we started the season, but clearly we are in a flat spot at the moment and (need to) find a way to arrest it,” he said.
While the Cats have serious questions to answer, the unlikely Blues are flying at 5-5 in their rebuild.
“It’s a particularly gutsy win, considering,” Blues coach Brendon Bolton said of their first-term injuries.
“It more needs to reflect on our players and their bond and care for each other.”
Bryce Gibbs was best afield, while Ed Curnow was superb in his tagging role on Joel Selwood a week after Collingwood’s Levi Greenwood also had the better of the Cats captain.
Andrejs Everitt kicked four goals and Kreuzer laid on a whopping 11 tackles, while defenders Sam Docherty and Sam Rowe were also outstanding.
Cam Guthrie was best for the Cats.