North Melbourne coach Brad Scott said his side failed their professionalism test just two weeks out from the finals after suffering a 53-point hiding from Fremantle on Sunday afternoon at Etihad Stadium.
The Kangaroos produced one of their more convincing wins of the season last week against Collingwood, a result that guaranteed them finals football for the first time since 2007 - with September action assured when Carlton lost to Gold Coast on Saturday night.
But coming off such a great win, North struggled to overcome a committed Dockers outfit on Sunday, one that was without Coleman medal leader Matthew Pavlich, and eventually conceded a nine-goal final quarter as Fremantle ran riot after three-quarter time.
"It's definitely not a conscious thing," Scott said, when asked why his side dropped their intensity and work rate after winning 10 of the last 11 matches heading into Sunday.
"But I think there's an element of relief that slips into the sub-conscious when you look at the result of the game last night up in Queensland, where the players take a deep breath and they think, 'we've made it (into the finals), we're in, we can't go out as it hasn't been definite until this point.
"And so I think that was always a concern for me going into this game, that with an evolving group and an improving group, could we be professional enough to give the same level of effort and work rate that we'd given over the last three months and we failed that test."
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon, understandably, felt the opposite of Scott after seeing his side secure finals football in his first year at the helm and for just the fourth time in the club's history.
Lyon, though, said he'd specifically spoken to his players about the Carlton result in a bid to ensure there was no complacency in his camp.
"We also live in the real world and as humans we would acknowledge that that was a favourable outcome for us," he said referring to Gold Coast's win.
"There'd be a lot of noise about it and I just got the group, with all the coaches and we just said, 'nothing changes from there, we've come to improve and test ourselves against one of the form teams of the competition'.
"Admittedly they've been up for a while, so were they vulnerable?
"They'd been fighting, maybe they breathed a sigh of relief as well, they were in the finals.
"We certainly acknowledged that and from there, we'd done all our preparation anyway but we didn't want to be distracted by talk of the next moment.
"This game today was the most important moment and we wanted to take care of business and improve and certainly it was pleasing we did that."
Lyon said no risk would be taken with Pavlich, a late withdrawal on Sunday after suffering from a combination of groin, hamstring and Achilles soreness throughout the week.
The coach also said Carlton's loss had no impact whatsoever on the decision to withdraw Pavlich from the side, with the skipper still in some doubt for next week's clash with Melbourne.
And for North, Scott said he expected ruckman Todd Goldstein to be fit for their clash with GWS despite suffering a nasty bout of gastro overnight that saw his influence restricted to just two possessions and eight hit-outs as his opposite number Aaron Sandilands amassed 49 hit-outs, the equal second best of his career.