A quiet word with Taylor Walker during a tough week had Adelaide coach Don Pyke convinced his under-fire skipper would send a message to his critics at the SCG.
After Walker booted four goals to lead Friday night's 12.13 (85) to 10.15 (75) win over the Sydney Swans, Pyke said the statement was vindication for publicly backing him in.
Walker has been under scrutiny over his form and leadership this campaign following an injury-interrupted pre-season.
The pressure intensified this week after the Crows' shock 48-point home loss to Collingwood, and Pyke revealed he had stepped in to check on the 27-year-old's wellbeing.
"We deal with what we can control internally and I just asked him how he was travelling," Pyke said.
"He's a really proud guy and he's been a really strong leader of our footy club.
"He hasn't been happy with his form either, to a point, but he's still been having an impact.
"This was one of those occasions where he came to play and he came to lead and he did it really well.
"I was super proud of him in particular, especially with some of the opinion that has been around about him.
"Sometimes it helps when you back people in."
Factoring in the Crows' heavy injury toll and last week's lacklustre display, Friday's stirring 10-point upset could be labelled season-defining.
The second-string side, missing Eddie Betts, Rory Sloane, David Mackay and the Crouch brothers Brad and Matt, led all the way and held off a late Swans charge to reign in adversity.
"It was an important win for us in the circumstances, and more important for the guys who are in the team than the guys who are out," Pyke said.
"I was pretty clear with the group that I wanted us to focus on who was in and what they were capable of."
Adelaide will look to continue their revival against Gold Coast at home next Saturday, though they will be without Kyle Hartigan who joins the injury list after hurting his hamstring midway through the second term on Friday.
Pyke hoped Sloane might be ready to return, with others to come in the following three fixtures at Adelaide Oval against Carlton, Port Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs.