Cox would emerge as a constant presence through the air across all three lines of the field to end the evening with 19 disposals, nine marks, four clearances and two goals in stamping his authority on the win.
Having just returned from injury last weekend and needing to take on the bulk of the ruck workload due to the club's absent tall options, Cox was prolific on his way to recording a game-high 25 hit-outs against GWS ruckman Matt Flynn.
"I did say it was one of his best games and he goes, 'I don't know about that'. He keeps reminding me about the prelim final in 2018," McRae told reporters after the 65-point win.
"I thought he had a great aerial presence. We've lost key personnel and someone had to step up. He has only played two games in eight weeks... it was a great performance."
The incident in question occurred shortly after Cox and Haynes contested for a mark in Collingwood's forward 50, with the American Magpie seen making contact with Haynes' head with his left hand/arm.
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) May 14, 2023
The strike could earn a similar grading that saw North Melbourne defender Aidan Corr sanctioned with a one-game suspension, with the MRO viewing the incident on Port Adelaide's Ollie Lord as intentional conduct, low impact and high contact.
A potential suspension for Cox would come as the Magpies prepare to welcome back first-string ruckman Darcy Cameron from a knee injury sustained in Round 3 against Richmond.
McRae managed to plug the void of both Cameron and Cox over several rounds thanks to the versatility of key-position players Billy Frampton and Ash Johnson, however their shifting structure now looks set for some stability with Cameron's return following Cox's.
Frampton is currently sidelined through injury, while reserve tall Nathan Kreuger sustained a suspected shoulder injury in the VFL on Sunday. Nevertheless, McRae remains confident in his group's ability to rely on the 'next man up'.
"Through adversity we found options. Billy Frampton has been enormous for us. He's going to miss two or three weeks," McRae said.
"The next guys are just stepping up. Darcy will be available next week, and we'll just have to weigh up how that looks.
"It's pleasing. Ash Johnson had moments today and against Brisbane really stood out in the aerial contests. He's found another level.
"Through circumstance, other guys have been given opportunity and it's given us flexibility potentially."
Collingwood will face arch-rivals Carlton at the MCG on Sunday in front of a crowd nearing close to 90,000 fans.