Pressure will begin to mount on Carlton and coach Michael Voss as teams begin to work out their game style.
Can the Blues adjust and find other ways to win?
Kane Cornes believes the next three weeks will be crucial in answering that question.
Carlton currently has 12 wins with Brisbane, Melbourne and Collingwood to come. In all likelihood, they will need a 13th to play finals, meaning they will have to knock off a top five team.
Cornes looks to recent losses against Adelaide and Richmond as examples of teams going to school on the Blues and shutting down their strengths around the contest.
“The challenge for Vossy is now strategic. Can you win a different way?” Cornes told SEN’s Whateley.
“There is now a blueprint on how to beat Carlton. We saw it from Richmond, we certainly saw it from Adelaide and they didn’t have an answer to it.
“What is it? Well, if you match them on-ball and if you stifle their strength around the contest and you break even around the footy and be as ferocious as they have been, if you then go after a couple of their half-backs and you’re. able to shut down their run … if Sam Walsh is playing as a high half-forward, let him go and drop off and that will give you the extra behind the ball as Richmond did so well with Nick Vlastuin.
“Walsh had high 30s that night, but Vlastuin had seven intercepts and was really influential. They’re more than happy to let Walsh get 40, but kick it inside 50 four times and have three score involvements. That’s a challenge for him and the club.
“So when they are matched around the footy, what’s their plan B? If you put two disciplined defenders on McKay and Curnow who are going to play back shoulder and not give them an inch and not try and come off and intercept, but just mitigate them.
“Does Voss have another option in his coaching arsenal to get the wins that have largely been reliant on them beating up sides around the footy?
“That’s what I’m looking for. That was probably always going to be Michael Voss’ challenge. The aura, the motivator, the figure that he is always his strength, but how is he tactically? We’ll get a good look at that in the next three weeks.”
Carlton’s game plan has been built around clearance and contested footy dominance, as well as their aerial power inside 50.
They will need both areas to shine on Sunday afternoon when they take on Brisbane at the Gabba.