North Melbourne coach Brad Scott has promised to launch a forensic review after watching his team put in a "dysfunctional" display in their shock 82-point loss to Fremantle.
The Kangaroos were billed as a serious finals contender heading into round one, but their fans will now be fearing a season of pain following the team's horrendous showing against Fremantle on Sunday.
Simple skill errors cost North Melbourne dearly in the 21.15 (141) to 9.5 (59) shellacking, with their defence unable to stand up to Fremantle's torrent of 68 inside 50s.
The loss was further compounded by a suspected ACL injury to defender Ed Vickers-Willis, and a potential suspension to midfielder Ben Cunnington for his off-the-ball punch to the belly of Nathan Wilson.
North Melbourne host a rejuvenated Brisbane Lions next Sunday, and can ill afford to put in another error-riddled display.
Scott said the team's performance against Fremantle was a huge concern, but believed it was out of character.
Nevertheless, he has promised to pick apart the performance, and perhaps wield the axe in favour of youth.
"What I do know is it requires a forensic review and an enormous amount of work to be done to rectify the issues, both offensively and defensively," Scott said.
"Skill errors come from three or four factors - technical error, which is obvious, a decision-making error, which is obvious, and then there's dysfunctional patterns forward of the ball to give the ball-carrier options.
"The fourth (one) is opposition pressure. I think we had pretty good examples of all four of those (against Fremantle)."
Scott knows the performance against Fremantle looked ugly, and he's urging his players to respond.
"Does that mean you're a terrible football team? Well I don't believe that, but I think on the evidence today people will think that and that's fair enough," Scott said of the display.
"It's what we do from here that matters and I've got a lot of time for this playing group and I know they'll respond. But talk's cheap. We've got to do it."
Fremantle had plenty to smile about, with Cam McCarthy's five-goal haul the brightest of the lot.
McCarthy wasn't even picked for Fremantle's pre-season games, but was thrust into the side for round one following Jesse Hogan's alcohol issues and Brennan Cox's hamstring injury.
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon says he doesn't know whether Hogan will be given the green light to return for next Sunday's clash with Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium.
Hogan is still working through his anxiety issues, and no timeline has been set for his return.
"It's in the hands of our medical team," Lyon said.
"It's not a decision I'll make. I'm sure I'll be informed of any progress. The people in the right positions make those decisions."
Veteran goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne is set for a stint on the sidelines after injuring his hamstring.
Australian Associated Press