AFL Rd 12 - Melbourne v Collingwood
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 15: The Magpies react after the loss of the round 12 AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the Collingwood Magpies at The Gabba on August 15, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Jono Searle/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

AFL great Wayne Carey says Collingwood have “lost their identity” after slumping to an embarrassing 56-point loss to the Demons on Saturday.

It marked the Pies’ fifth defeat of the season, currently sitting seventh on the ladder and suddenly fighting to maintain a finals spot.

It is a big fall from grace for Nathan Buckley’s side, who despite being hampered with injuries to several key players and faced with a gruelling schedule, finished top four in the last two seasons.

Carey believes Collingwood’s recent form is reminiscent of their inconsistent play from pre-2018.

“For me, Collingwood have almost gone back to before they got on this run – before they were good, when Nathan Buckley was under pressure,” Carey said on Triple M.

“It’s almost like they’ve lost their identity. Their game plan – we now no longer know how they’re going to play or how they want to play. I don’t think they have the skillset to play what they were playing at that particular time. For me there’s just a lot of confusion”.

Former St Kilda and Fremantle coach Ross Lyon then pointed to the injury-hit backline as the source of the Pies’ woes.

“No Roughead, no Howe, (no Langdon), they’ve got a couple in that back 6 who just looked all at sea,” Lyon said.

“When you play a system, and you lose three critical components, then you bring in three newies who can’t play the system, you fall apart like they did.”

But Carey questioned the narrative around Collingwood’s injury list, saying only a handful missing would actually make it back into the side automatically.

“Howe, De Goey, Treloar. They’re clearly all in their best 22, they’re all very important to this team. But once you go through the rest of that injury list that everyone keeps saying how long it is, most of those players aren’t in their best 22. They’re the only three that come straight back in,” Carey said.

Former Tigers and Bulldogs forward Nathan Brown said that Collingwood must turn to the recruiting table to fix one of their main flaws.

“Collingwood need to go out and get a big forward, because right now they don’t have a get-out kick, they don’t have a (Charlie) Dixon who can come up the wing and compete,” Brown said.

But Carey believes that much-maligned forward Mason Cox could come in and provide what the Pies need up forward, provided he finds some form.

“All that they need, that they just need competitiveness up there (forward), and not to be outmarked. That’s what Mason Cox does bring to this footy club – often he doesn’t get outmarked and he can bring it to ground,” Carey said.

“They’ll bring some predictability back by bringing him in, no question, but, is he mentally, is he in form enough to be in? Because before he went out, he was actually not even getting his hands to it.”

The struggling Pies face North Melbourne next Monday night in a must-win game to keep their finals hopes alive.