Collingwood Magpies face a selection dilemma ahead of a crucial Super Netball clash with West Coast Fever as their finals hopes hang in the balance.
The star-studded Magpies are languishing in second-last place on the ladder with their lack of consistency on full display during Sunday's eight-goal defeat to local rivals Melbourne Vixens.
Poised to register their first derby win in four attempts after a dynamic opening half, the Magpies faded after halftime as the Vixens ran out 65-57 victors at Margaret Court Arena to move into the top four.
"We don't like to lose any game, especially to our hometown rivals," Magpies coach Kristy Keppich-Birrell said.
"It's frustrating for the team because we know we actually can (win) and if we weren't so close all the time then it would be a different picture."
There was no place for high-profile defender Sharni Layton in the Magpies' starting seven against the Vixens with Keppich-Birrell shifting April Brandley to goal keeper alongside rookie defender Matilda Garrett.
Layton played the fourth quarter after subbing in for Garrett but the Vixens capped an impressive comeback by outscoring Collingwood 37-24 in the second half.
"The decision was based on form during the week," Keppich-Birrell said about playing Garrett ahead of Layton.
"(Garrett) is an amazing young athlete, she just tired a little bit towards the end but her ability to get in the play, get in the passing lanes and contest hard and cleanly is a beautiful thing to watch."
The defeat leaves the underperforming Magpies 2-6 with six rounds to play, starting with a must-win clash with the top-ranked Fever on Saturday night.
The Magpies' brains trust must decide whether to recall the experienced Layton at the expense of Garrett in the hope of nullifying West Coast's Jamaican import Jhaniele Fowler, the league's leading goal scorer.
Regardless of who takes the court against the Fever, Keppich-Birrell is confident of a late finals push.
"You never give up hope because of the calibre of this team," she said.
"We know that when they are at their best, they are better than anyone in the league. It's just that part when we are not at our best is not good enough at the moment."