Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley hailed his backmen after their rearguard effort eked out a two-goal win over Carlton on Saturday night at the MCG.
Despite a clear and still winter's night, the clash of two traditional AFL rivals often resembled a war of attrition, with a scoreline to match.
Just eight goals were kicked after quarter-time in a match that lived up to the billing of 13th v 14th.
The Magpies' less-than-mighty tally of 8.9 (57) to Carlton's 6.8 (45) was by some way the lowest winning score of the season.
But in a season of marginal returns for the Magpies, Buckley said he was happy to be the one heading home with four points in the bag.
"There would very few that were absolutely satisfied with the way they played but we were able to grind it out and that's the real positive," he said.
"When you beat a side like Carlton, especially with the fact that they got the points earlier in the year, we're happy."
While Scott Pendlebury was a clear best-afield after tallying 30 touches to three-quarter time, Collingwood's backmen led the way.
In his 60th game, Ben Sinclair denied two Carlton goals with diving smothers and provided plenty of run.
Ben Reid was a towering force and Tyson Goldsack fell into the groove despite a 12-week AFL absence.
Buckley suggested he could see the makings of a hard-nosed defence.
"We only gave up 44 inside (50s) ... we were able to hold up.
"It was good to see that. We're starting to see a little bit of continuity."
The flipside is a misfiring forward line which only entered their attacking 50-metre zone 41 times.
Buckley said changes to his front six didn't help, but he was satisfied with contributions from returning forward Darcy Moore and veteran Travis Cloke.
"We butchered some opportunities going forward. We're still working it out," he said.