Guts and determination; two words you would never use to describe the 2014 edition of Carlton until Sunday night.
But how the worm turned at Etihad Stadium, where the Blues got home by 28 points and sang their song for the first time this AFL season thanks to the will to win as much as any football skills.
Carlton have become used to life without Chris Judd since February, but the 18.11 (119) to 13.13 (91) victory was something different altogether.
Judd loomed as the Blues’ saviour as he made a long-awaited return from pre-season achilles surgery.
Instead, the dual Brownlow medallist lasted six minutes and three possessions as the substitute, limping off with a hamstring injury late in the third quarter.
Ed Curnow finished the game on crutches, having crashed into a goal post in the final term and being unable to continue playing.
But despite being two men down on the bench, and Tom Bell nursing a finger injury, Carlton found a way to stop a spirited Bulldogs comeback.
“We didn’t have a lot left. I haven’t seen those (rotation) figures,” Blues coach Mick Malthouse said.
“To only have one interchange against a very good running football side, I thought it showed a lot of ‘g and d (guts and determination)’.
“We were mentally prepared and mentally strong.”
The Dogs challenged late and trailed by 18 points when Stewart Crameri kicked his fourth goal, the first of the final quarter being a showstopper from the 50m arc.
But Carlton responded, veteran Heath Scotland kicking the sealer and Crameri among the many to miss chances.
The frenzied Blues looked a completely different side to that which was embarrassed by Essendon and humiliated by Melbourne in their past two starts.
“A pretty strong footy club stood up for itself today,” Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney said.
“A bit of composure (was needed).”
Malthouse insisted the week of turmoil and scrutiny had little impact on the club.
“The pressures are internal. When you’ve lost games, you have doubt,” he said.
The club’s leaders, having their credentials questioned throughout the week, stood up with captain Marc Murphy at the fore.
Murphy finished with 28 touches, 11 tackles and quite possibly three Brownlow votes.
Key forwards Jarrad Waite and Lachie Henderson combined for eight goals, while ruckman Robbie Warnock had his best game as a Blue according to Malthouse.
The Blues were superb at the blue-collar stuff, beating the Bulldogs in tackles (85-71) and contested possessions (150-134).
Confidence – the buzzword uttered by Malthouse, Murphy and Henderson throughout the week – was back.
Whether it be on the last line of defence or streaming through the middle of the ground, the Blues played on with reckless abandon and moved the ball swiftly with great reward.