CARLTON interim coach David Teague says his side is now starting to believe it can match it with the best, after a second narrow loss against a top four side.
The Blues hit the ground running after Teague took over, recording five wins in seven games, but have now lost to West Coast by 24 points and, on Sunday, Richmond by 28.
"We're always learning, we learnt a lot today. We learnt in the second half we can match them, but we also learnt we are not quite good enough yet," Teague said.
"That's two weeks in a row we were not quite good enough. We are doing a lot right, but at the end of the day, we think we can perform even better than what we are, so it's a frustrating one.
"We weren't our best, and two weeks in a row we've competed hard, we've tried hard, but we need to just fine-tune some of our system and some of our execution to get to where we need to get to."
Key forward Mitch McGovern (11 disposals, two marks, 2.2) made his return against the Tigers after a four-week conditioning block.
While stuck on the bench at the start of the third term, there was no injury concerns, just a rotation issue.
"I thought [McGovern's] effort was strong. He got the ball to ground, he competed and jumped at the ball. He had a few shots on goal, not that that was it, but he played his role," Teague said.
The interim coach was full of praise for key defender Liam Jones, who played after missing last week's loss following the death of his mother.
The Blue was locked in a fascinating battle with spearhead Jack Riewoldt for most of the game, holding the Tiger to just six disposals and two goals.
"It's a hard one. The week he's been through, the way he went out and did it, I know his mum would have been super-proud and I was," Teague said.
"He even came down with a cold and was umming and ahhing as to whether he would play, because he had the cold, but the way he went out there and just got his job done. I was really, really proud of him today."
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Teague backed the decision to take three tall forwards – McGovern, Harry McKay and Levi Casboult – into a match that was hit hard by rain.
"We were really comfortable with our talls. Talls and smalls have to put pressure on and if anything, early on, it was them marking the ball [that was the issue]. Being any smaller wouldn't have helped that," he said.
"I thought Levi, Harry and Mitch all competed quite strongly ahead of the ball when they could."