Collingwood have ended a tumultuous weekend with a shock 12-point loss to 16th-placed Fremantle, seeing their premiership credentials take another big hit.
Forward Matt Taberner booted four goals and Caleb Serong starred in the midfield with 24 disposals and nine clearances to lift the Dockers to a 10.1 (61) to 7.7 (49) win in front of 20,912 fans on Sunday.
The result saw Collingwood drop to 10th on the ladder with four wins and a draw from nine games.
‘STAND DOWN’: Nathan Buckley under fire after virus breach
It also came 24 hours after coach Nathan Buckley and his assistant Brenton Sanderson copped a $50,000 fine - half of which was suspended - for playing a doubles tennis match with Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik in Perth on Friday.
The Collingwood duo had been given permission to play tennis, but the protocol breach was made when they involved someone from outside of Collingwood’s coronavirus bubble.
Buckley and Sanderson had to quarantine away from their players for 24 hours while they awaited the results of their coronavirus test.
Two days later, Collingwood slumped to another disappointing loss.
Buckley takes the blame for distracting team
Buckley concedes he was in the wrong over the breach, and it was an unwanted distraction heading into Sunday's game.
“I don't have a leg to stand on,” Buckley said of the breach.
“It was a lack of due diligence by me and follow-up and I should have known better, really.
“It can't help (our preparation for the match). You don't need the extra attention, especially when it's away from your primary endeavour, which is to be as good a football team as you possibly can be.
“We let the club down in that regard by a miscommunication and not being diligent enough with our understanding of what we could and could not do.
“I just had a really expensive game of tennis during the week.”
Fans and commentators poked fun at Buckley’s tennis gaffe during Collingwood’s loss.
“Game, set, match to Freo, but the Pies tried to take it to a tie-breaker,” sports journo Alex Fair wrote on Twitter.
Veteran reporter Ron Reed added: “Not a great weekend for Bucks but if he needs to find a new gig Nick Kyrgios has vacated a spot at the US Open.”
While Richard Hinds wrote: “Collingwood rotting like a fish.”
Collingwood’s concerning form slump
The Magpies were horrible in last week's 66-point loss to West Coast, and their error-riddled display against the Dockers will raise further alarm bells.
The biggest concern was the contested possession battle, which Fremantle won 151-115.
“Around the ball they were hungrier to win it and hungrier to attack us when we won it,” Buckley said.
"We got smacked in contested possession and out-tackled.
"We've lacked a bit of an edge in the last couple of weeks. The last two games we haven't been as aggressive in there as we usually are."
Buckley believes the contested possession issue can be fixed with a tougher mental approach heading into Thursday's clash with Sydney at the Gabba.
The Magpies managed just two goals from 25 inside 50s in the first half as Fremantle's depleted defence stood firm.
Collingwood produced a three-goal spurt to end the third-quarter to take a four-point lead, but Fremantle prevailed in a frantic final term.
Magpies vice-captain Steele Sidebottom (25 disposals, two goals) was quiet early before bursting to life in his first match back after serving his four-match ban for breaking COVID-19 protocols.