Gold Coast are drifting perilously close to the longest losing streak in the AFL era but coach Guy McKenna said their improved defence shows they are on the right track.
The Suns have lost their past 19 games, with their last victory coming against Richmond in Round 17 2011, a losing run that is already the third-longest since the VFL became the AFL in 1990.
And they will need to beat fellow newcomers GWS in Round 20 to avoid equalling Sydney's AFL era record of 26 consecutive losses if they fail to defeat West Coast, Geelong, Richmond, Brisbane, the Swans or Melbourne in the meantime.
But Gold Coast have conceded just 1377 points through their first 12 games, 94 less than they had at the same point last year.
McKenna said that improvement, which has come despite an injury-riddled season, was evidence his youngsters were beginning to understand the demands of the AFL.
"We can throw in all sorts of reasons and excuses (for the poor win-loss record) about personnel not there, second year blues, there's all that sort of stuff," he said.
"But facts say we're 100 points better off than we were at this point last year.
"We're happy, if you like, to be where we are. But we'd certainly be a lot happier if we were 200-300 points better off.
"It's all about continuous improvement, that's what we're about. If that falls into wins, fantastic. If it's not, it's about us having an ability to defend better."
The Suns will need to draw on every bit of that improvement to be competitive against West Coast in Perth on Saturday, a game which one bookmaker has quoted them a $21 outsider to win.
Sportsbet has given Gold Coast a 12-goal head start in line betting and is offering odds of $115 for the Suns to win by more than five goals, but McKenna said the predictions of an annihilation would not harm their confidence.
"There's been (predicted) margins similar to that and we've won games of footy. There's been margins like that and we've got close in those games," he said.
"I think for a young club like ours it's a great challenge and something we should look forward to."
Instead of being daunted by the task of facing the fourth-placed Eagles at a venue where they have won 17 consecutive games, McKenna said their opponents' rapid rise should be inspiration to their youngsters.
John Worsfold's side won the wooden spoon in 2010 before climbing into the top four last season and McKenna said he remained confident experience would bring similar improvement for his team.
"I just can't wait for our group to get 50 games together... judge us then," he said."It's important we just settle down and be patient but when we go out there earn respect by competing hard."