Injuries threaten to derail Collingwood's push for a top-four spot, with coach Nathan Buckley admitting Darcy Moore's hamstring strain proved costly in a two-point AFL loss to Sydney.
Moore, who has dealt with recurring hamstring trouble this season, hurt his "good" hamstring during the second quarter on Saturday night.
The innocuous incident meant the Magpies were down a rotation for the entire second half at the SCG.
It also meant Buckley sent debutant Jack Madgen to Lance Franklin, who ultimately proved the match-winner with six goals.
Buckley lamented the latest injury blow to a makeshift defence, already missing the likes of Lynden Dunn, Matthew Scharenberg, Ben Reid and Jeremy Howe because of setbacks.
"It's always nice to have the 22 you go in with," Buckley told reporters.
"The guy Darcy was playing on ended up having 10 of their 18 shots on goal.
"Scored 40 points of their 73.
"So I think that was relatively significant.
"We were able to cover it for the majority of the game ... but that third quarter stands out as something we didn't get right."
Buckley is unsure how long Moore will be on the sidelines.
"It doesn't seem to be (serious) but it was serious enough for him not to play the game and that was costly," he said.
"Buddy is a dominant player and when he's up and about, he's pretty hard to stop."
Moore's previous injury trouble suggests he may be racing the clock to return before finals.
The news is better for young gun Jordan De Goey (leg) and Howe (concussion), who could both possibly return against Brisbane next week.
Buckley noted he was sick of talking about injuries, especially after his charges squandered a golden chance to shore up their spot in the top four.
The Magpies, who seemed well placed to snatch a coveted double chance in September, are now no certainty to return to finals for the first time since 2013, such is the congested nature of the ladder.
"We wouldn't be human if we didn't understand where we sat and what was happening around us (on the ladder)," Buckley said.
"But we haven't focused on it to this point so we won't be focusing on it now."